While on my Sabbatical adventure, in addition to a multitude of marvelous museums, I also had the opportunity to visit a variety of places of worship. I worshiped in the “high church” mode with hundreds at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, and the Basilica Cathedral of St. Louis, in St. Louis. And I experienced the informal worship, evangelical preaching, and down-home pot-luck dinner with a couple dozen at Mitchell Baptist Church, in Mitchell, Oregon.
I also worshiped in the large, but more middle-of-the-road congregation of Marble Collegiate Church in New York, which is the oldest Protestant church in America, having been founded by the Dutch Reformed in 1628. And when I returned home to Mason City, I tried something new. One Sunday morning I got my iPad and my mug of tea, and sat in my living room, joining the worship service at Marble Collegiate via live-streaming. I heard all the announcements, sang along with some of the hymns, listened to the Scripture readings, the sermon, the prayers, the anthem, the organ. On my screen I could see the preacher, the liturgists, the choir, and many of the worshipers, as the camera panned around the congregation. No doubt about it, it was a meaningful worship service, and a great sermon. But there was something missing. Even with the best liturgy and music and preaching, there is something about actually gathering with people that is crucial to worship.