So, what does a typical worship service look like at United Baptist? That’s a hard question to answer, because what you see will depends a lot on what you expect or what you are used to.
If you are used to a high church service, like those at an Episcopalian church or a Roman Catholic service, you will recognize some of the basic structure. We do things like pray a common confession, pass the peace and read the scriptures out loud. But you will also notice that a UBC service is much simpler. We don’t wear robes, or chant, or use incense or anything like that. Much of the year we follow the same scripture reading plan the lots of other Protestant churches follow (the Revised Common Lectionary). Sermons at UBC run from 20-30 minutes, so they are probably a little longer than at your Episcopal Church.
If you are more used to the contemporary services – the kind with a worship band -- you will either find our service kind of stodgy, or a breath of fresh air. We sing a couple songs straight from a hymnal. A couple of other songs will be a little more recent in origin. We don’t use a projector or screen, so we print the words to these songs in our bulletin. We do a lot of praying out loud, sometimes written so we can all pray together, sometimes following a leader. Our sermons are not usually based on a topic, but instead tend to be geared toward explaining the scripture reading of the day.
If you are an old-fashioned Baptist type, you will also find some familiar touchstones at UBC. The hymnals, the pulpit, the offering, the preaching. We celebrate communion once a month. The pastor wears a suit. We use a piano to accompany the singing, and sometimes an organ.
In fact, however, we consider all these things kind of incidental. The main thing is that we gather every Sunday to worship our Lord Jesus Christ. We try to infuse the good news of Jesus throughout the entire service. The idea is that our worship is one big sermon in which the whole congregation takes part. Throughout the service we preach the gospel to one another in our prayers, in our songs, and in our actions. This doesn’t make us unique – lots of churches do this, in lots of different ways.
So, depending on your expectations, you may see our worship as more modern than some of the more formal and structured types of churches. Or you may think that we are more traditional and old fashioned than some of the churches that use projectors and bands. We’re OK with that. In fact, we like standing in the middle. We think there is a place for that. Either way, the one thing you can always expect to hear and see at UBC is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’re pretty clear on that. No matter how you worship, it’s all about Jesus.
Don't worry too much if Easter Sunday passed by you in a flash of pastels, visiting family, and chunks of chocolate. If, in the flurried middle of the holiday, you feel like you gave the actual resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ scant attention, you still have time.
Here's why. At UBC, we are learning to follow the traditional Christian Church Calendar. There's lots of reasons why this is a good practice, not least of which is because it helps us to think Christianly about time. We'll deal with that more in other blog posts, but for now, what you need to know is you still have time to focus on what it means for us to be Resurrection People!
We are going to continue to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord for several more weeks. In fact, we'll be remembering, reliving, and gazing on our risen Lord all that way to June 8, when we celebrate Penetecost.
If you are like me, sometimes it just takes more time for something to soak in. That's why holidays often don't seem like enough, and why seasons are so helpful.
Internet Monk has a terrific and very thoughtful article on why it is good to treat Easter as a season. I highly recommend it. You might want to check it out.
United Baptist Church
Check here regularly to find out what's happening around United Baptist, along with occasional gospel focused articles on important topics.