Even when I am out of town on vacation, I like to go to church. I usually choose a Lutheran (ELCA) or Episcopal Church because I look forward to the Sunday Eucharist.
Today I chose differently.
James Freeman, our organ technician at St. Mark’s suggested I go to First Congregational Church to hear this baby, built by Rudolf von Beckerath from Hamburg, Germany in 1972:
The church actually has two organs. In the chancel they have an organ built by W.W. Kimball (Chicago) in 1931. Ample information about the organs is available at http://www.first-church.org/TheOrgans.aspx.
First Congregation, an open and affirming congregation, has one of those grand church structures that inspires awe on the inside and out. Over the doors in the front of the church are the words “Enter to worship. Depart to serve.”
|The church viewed from East Broad Street|
The worship service felt very liturgical! As we gathered and prepared for worship, Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A (BWV 536) floated down from the balcony. The language of the liturgy felt very similar to what I am used to hearing. For example, this prayer at the beginning of the service:
Keep, O Holy One, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love; that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness and administer your church with justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
There was no psalm, but the epistle and gospel readings both matched the readings in the Revised Common Lectionary – so we heard the story of the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus, washed them with her tears, and dried them with her hair.
During the sermon, the Rev. Timothy C. Ahrens asked us to hear Jesus’ question, “Do you see this woman?” He said that most theologians and preachers like to talk about her history as a prostitute, but encouraged us to see her as a disciple whose actions prefigured the crucifixion. He encouraged the assembly with these words: May Jesus’ words guide your looking and seeing the women in your life.
|Inside the narthex|
The hymns were “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” “As We Walk through Life with Jesus,” (written by Pastor Ahrens and dedicated to his parents for their 65th wedding anniversary), and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Additional music at the offering and postlude was from a concerto by Marcello with organ and saxophone. The saxophone was ably played by Grace Gelpi, a student at Michigan State University. It suited the solemnity of worship and felt like a special grace for the morning.
The Pastor is Rev. Dr. Timothy C. Ahrens and the Music Director is Kevin Jones, M.M. I did not get to meet him, but admired his playing of the voluntaries and the hymns. If you are in the Columbus area, I would recommend visiting this church. First Congregational Church is at 444 East Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio.
|A beautiful banner and with a stand that is also a work of art|
Did I miss having the Lord’s Supper? Sure. But when you are attending a Lutheran seminary where there is worship every day, the Eucharist is never far away.