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Week 02 of 52 - Presbyterian Church


Thoughts during week before visit:


Wednesday, May 8, 2002


Freedom is usually just a choice (at least in America - where we live.)We can choose to allow others to run our lives in any detail we wish to allow.There will always be plenty of people and/or organizations of people who will step in to take over for us and run our lives.A free person loves to consider the advice of others, but not to take orders.


Organizations should be viewed as "owned by us," and not the other way around.I always thought it absurd that missionaries where I served were willing to be owned by the Church 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Imagine being told by someone - that you are not allowed to swim - on your own time.(Of course, if one has given up his freedom 24 / 7, there is no "own time.")These are adults being treated like children, when we ought to, so much as practical for each individual, treat children as adults.Joseph was a teenager, when he could look his minister in the eye and say, "I'm right - I believe you're wrong."That's my kind of teen!(So long as he or she is responsible.)


The Visit:


I visited the Presbyterian Church corner of Juniper and Idaho Wednesday.They have two meeting on Sunday mornings.One starts at 8:30 (Lasts about an hour).The other starts at about 10:45 (Also lasts about an hour.)The earlier meeting includes contemporary music, while the later is more formal and traditional.I asked how many attend each of them.Answer - about 150 at 8:30 - about 100 at the 10:30.I asked how many attend both?The woman appeared puzzled by the question."What do you mean?" she asked.I asked if there were some who attended both.She said, "Why would anyone want to go to both?"Now I was puzzled.


It turns out that both meetings are the same - same talks - same speakers - same substance.It's only the music that is different.


I'm going to attend both to get the flavor of each.


Between the two meetings, they normally have something like a Sunday School - but this week will be different - because of Mother's day.The men are preparing a meal for the mothers (And for everyone, I suppose.)I'll attend that also.(Wouldn't miss that.)


This particular church has allowed us to use their parking lot four times for four wedding receptions that were held in our home."Sure you can use the lot - of course."



Sunday - May 10, 2002


Attended meetings at 8:30 and at 10:45†† Mother's Day.Music was projected in the first meeting (The words) for the congregation.No hymn book was used at all.The second meeting had more formal (similar to ours) music - using the hymnal.Music was fun yet appropriate in the first meeting.(Not as jazzy as we've hard among the Southern Baptists - yet certainly moreso than among Mormons.Actually, it was about what we have in other Mormon entertainment that is not so formal as a Sacrament meeting - like the music ofDavid McLean.)During the second meeting, music was appropriate - that's all - no fun, though beautiful - much like ours - many of the same hymns in the hymnal.(I think we have of late - quit using some of the "fun" songs in the primary - in favor of more formal wordings.(Popcorn popping, for example.) )Trying to sing parts in this Presbyterian Church (bass and tenor), one gets lost, as the organist plays differing versions of accompaniment along the way - not using the hymnal for his score.Everyone just sings the melody line, of necessity.I like our way better.


Bell choir was wonderful, but only used in the first meeting.


A mother came up and told a story with children gathered around her.It was the story of embroidery - rough on the back - beautiful and finished on the front.It was about how we sometimes view our lives - rough - and how God sees his work from the front side (His side.)Nicely done.Again - only in the first meeting.


The second meeting had no children (None - not one!)


The second meeting included some word-for-word things - recited by all.A prayer of confession, for example.After the scriptural talk, the minister said, "These are the words of my mouth," and the congregation said, "Thanks be to God."After the benediction, the program shows that we were all to say, "I know that my redeemer lives."


The messages of the minister were exactly the same in both meetings.(Corinthians Chapter 7 - about marriage and divorce - what's allowed - why, etc.)†† Also about families and how one partner can bring the blessings of God, even when the other is a non-believer.


He told a story - this was most interesting - and I took no opportunity to discuss it - He was busy afterward with the members.


The story was about a little girl talking with God.It was her turn to come to the Earth to live her life here.She was worried - scared.She asked God what it would be like.God said she would have a special angel to help her along the way.She asked what the angel's name was.God said, "Her name does not matter - you will call her 'Mommy.' "


Do they believe, as Mormons do, that we lived before we came to Earth?Did Presbyterians recently begin believing this - or have they all along?Or is this just a metaphoric story that is not literal to them?I had the thought that if it were metaphoric, time would make it real to them, and they will believe it actual.That's the way metaphors work in organizations.


People do not like to have their metaphors reduced to similes.To keep this from happening, they come to insist that they are not metaphors, but actual truths.Catholics insist that the wafer becomes the actual flesh of Christ, when anyone suggests it's a symbol.Mormons insist that God is actually a mammal(Very advanced humanoid being) - when anyone suggests that His fatherhood is symbolic and that mammals have existed for a relatively short time in the history of the universe - that they couldn't exist without the organized environment first - that the universe had to come before mammals.


As soon as someone says that a metaphor is a metaphor, it has been reduced to simile.This person has said, for example, that the child who is eating so fast is not actually a pig - but like one.This is highly resisted among groups with common beliefs laid out for their acceptance.They want that wafer to be the flesh of Jesus.(We scientists could do a DNA test on the swallowed remains of the wafer - but assuredly, they would tell us that our lack of faith caused God to take His flesh away during the experiment.)One can never win these arguments.


Between the two meetings, they had brunch for Mother's Day.This took the place of their normal Sunday School.The men seemed rather proud of their accomplishment.I did see some mothers helping, however.Considerable freedom is exercised to do what makes sense in differing circumstances.There appears to be no central guidance (dictation) as to how the meeting should be designed.I thought the thought that there are advantages to both of these scenarios.(Ours and theirs.)It must be clear to those who know me that freedom is a most important value - and I must admit, I like this freedom better sometimes than I do our required conformance.However, I thought, I have seen so little - a year with this, and I might be eager to come back to the organized and structured environment.I might also find that there is much conformance here - while we are the ones with the freedom.(We like to dance, for example - Baptists don't.I donít know if Presbyterians do or not.)We wear makeup (mostly the girl Mormons, though I've been "reducing" my gray on occasion.).We love to laugh.We don't applaud in the formal meetings - they do!They clapped with much more enthusiasm in the first meeting, however, and only about half of them clapped at all in the second.We keep that "half-clapping" from occurring in our chapel meetings when there are many visitors - by announcing at the beginning that there is to be no applause.(It's interesting to me that laughter is allowed - but not applause.And even laughter is allowed only during talks - no funny music is allowed.I thought it a wonderful exception when Brother Hill sang solo - had to stop - made a little announcement - and got laughter.I loved it!Brother Hill, you're a giant.Who would think it would be Brother Hill who would break ground on such an issue?)During this Trip Around The Sun, I will think of many of you - what wonderful people you are.


Leona attended the first meeting with me - then on to finish her prep work for her primary lesson.I'm glad she attended the first instead of the second - It was a "Slam-Dunk" for the better of the two.I really believed all those senior citizens (look who's talking) in the second meeting would have loved both the bell choir - and the children.(Who wouldn't?)


02 of 52Trip Around The Sun Ė Presbyterian


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