Sunday at a UMC in Texas

At the suggestion of Kevin, we decided to check out Highland Park UMC in Dallas, TX. On a side note, Kevin, we tried to get there during the 930 service to at least try to say hello. But timing didn’t work out. Sorry we missed you. It would’ve been really cool to see you. Next time…
But because we ran into scheduling conflicts in the morning, I got to drive my sister-in-law’s BMW to the church.That probably will be the first and last time I ever get to drive a beamer.
The wife was telling me that Highland is one of the wealthiest districts in Dallas and that her alma mater, SMU was right there.

We decided to go to the contemporary worship. Only because so many people think that this style of worship is unnecessary and will eventually fade out, or something of that matter.
It was kind of confusing when we got there. We didn’t really know where to park, or if there was a visitor parking for us. We found a stall, but didn’t know if it was for church parking. But we parked anyway. As I walked out, I realized that I parked the car in the midst of other BMWs and Mercedes. It was an odd feeling.
We didn’t really know where to go. So we just started following people who were crossing the street. I remembered on the church’s website that the contemporary worship was in a different building for a little while. So I figured, following the people crossing the street would be a good bet.
We didn’t really get welcomed, except by the person handing out the bulletin. At least it wasn’t the creepy, over-welcoming that I got at Willow Creek.
It was great, and relieving to see so many people in worship at a UMC. There were a good mix of people, from old to young, from those wearing suits and formal attire to those rocking mohawks. But it was rather homogeneous when it came to ethnicity.

After the welcoming came one of the awkwardest moments of worship for me: the passing of the peace. I don’t know what to say. Is hello enough? Why do they need to know my name? Why do I want to know their name? Are their hands clean? What’s the point? The person next to me is never going to see or talk to me again.
But that’s just me. I guess for others it’s important.

Overall, it was great to be in worship that I wanted to be. The rest of the family went to a Korean church, and I was glad that I didn’t have to sit through a Korean sermon trying to understand everything the pastor said.

But here were something things that did bother me or made me think about the worship experience:

  • The pastor’s sermon really bothered me. I guess the church is in the middle of a series dealing with heart issues. The Sunday’s sermon was about Sabbath and giving the heart rest. The point that he drove home over and over (it was very repetitive, which made the sermon about 35-40 minutes long, but felt longer because of his repetitiveness) was to take a day off and do nothing. “Do nothing. Just don’t do anything. Nothing.” That bothered me more than the repetitiveness. Earlier in my seminary years, I did do nothing. On my day off, I did absolutely nothing. Watched TV. Took a nap. Played video games. Watched more TV. It was until fairly recently that this was not the point of my day off. For me, the point of the Sabbath is to not do the daily work so that I can truly be with God. That I can take time to just hang out with God and not let work get in the way of that. To really rest in God and recharge and be renewed in God. But that’s not what I got from his message that day, but there is a good possibility that he said that and I just missed out.
  • Their use of technology was great! In fact, the pastor in his weekly or monthly article said that he misses the technology and media use in the original worship room and can’t wait for the renovations are done. Which got me to thinking: we live in Southern California. Hollywood is in our backyard. We are in the media and media technology capital of the world. Our state has George Lucas and Steve Jobs as its residents. Yet, why are so many UMC still in the 1980’s when it comes to technology in the church? I had to go hunt for transparency sheets for an overhead this summer, until I realized I did not want to pay 40 dollars for transparency sheets.
  • Why do so many people knock contemporary worship and praise music? The fact is, for me, that style of worship is very relevant to me. And I’m sure many would agree. What does it do to continually belittle and criticize this style of worship? I just don’t get it.

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