This Sunday we visit a United Methodist church with two traditional services. We go to the second and I’m expectant for what I will learn.
Two greeters hand out nametags to the regulars; they offer us welcome stickers and we write our names. The nametags are a first in our 52 churches journey, an appreciated gesture. The sanctuary, with a white décor, is cube-like in shape, seating about 120. Up front is a large, backlit cross. A colorful banner to the right proclaims, “Catch the Spirit.”
The pastor is away and another is filling in for her. There’s also a farewell potluck for their departing organist/pianist. Several people invite us to stay. With an air of pride, they say, “Methodists know how to cook.”
After a ceremonial lighting of two candles, a layperson opens the service with a short liturgy, Bible reading, and acknowledgement of the week’s birthdays and anniversaries. Although most of the eighty or so people present reside in the senior citizen demographic, six kids hear a children’s message from a hand puppet and its partner. There’s no choir today, but there is a guest soloist. We also sing several hymns, using two different hymnals.
The congregation stands as the minister reads Mark 1:14-20. Her sermon is “Come, Let’s Go Fishing.” She smartly compares fishing for fish with fishing for people, which is what Jesus invited his followers to do. After the sermon we sing a closing number, the candles are extinguished, and we move to the fellowship hall to eat.
The food is ample and delicious. I eat too much. Sharing a meal is a great way to form community and get to know people. The potluck did that for us today. I’m not sure if all Methodists know how to cook, but this congregation sure does.