09 May 2012

Reasons I Love Providence Church

I’ve been thinking lately about how much I love my church, and I thought I’d do a slightly more personal Top Five this week. So here are the Top Five things I love about Providence Church. (Please don’t get the idea that I’m saying that the church I attend is the best church ever and that every other church falls short. A man can be patriotic about his country without necessarily believing that all other countries are inferior.)


1. The People

It’s unusual to find a group of people committed to being together as a community. I love the fact that the people at Providence help one another in times of need, rally around the sick and suffering, and seek good fellowship with one other. It has been a great blessing to be a part of the body here for the last decade or so.

2. Liturgy and Music

I appreciate the fact that our elders put a lot of thought into the liturgy of our church. It is amazing to see how the overall outline of worship is the same in almost any traditional church. I can go to the Baptist church I attended in high school or go to Catholic mass, and the broad outline of worship is the same. Just no altar call at the Catholic church. However, over the last 2,000 years an incredible amount of diversity has developed in different cultures and traditions: various prayers, songs, and forms of confession. Our elders are willing to incorporate a number of these different things into our worship, which gives a tangible connection to Christians through the ages.

In addition, unlike many hymnals with are really heavy on 18th and 19th century hymns or totally contemporary stuff, our hymnal from which we sing contains songs going back to the 3rd century and continuing through the 21st. We do chanting, Genevan “jigs”, Baroque German hymns, American folk hymns, and other songs leading right up through to the present. We also sing a lot of psalms, a practice which was once prevalent in the Church and has of late fallen out of favor.

3. Centrality of the Eucharist

I love the fact that the Lord’s Supper is central to every worship service. The idea that each week God calls His people to His presence, cleanses them of sin, prepares them with His Word and that this all culminates in an invitation to feast at His table as He feeds us with Christ.

Another aspect of the Eucharist I love at Providence Church is the inclusion of all baptized believers in Christ. In 1 Cor. 10:17, Paul asserts that the Eucharist is a meal of unity. We partake of the one loaf to show our unity with one another. At our church all who have been baptized in the name of the Triune God are welcome to share this meal of unity. This means that my whole family, including my children, can eat together. It also means that those visiting from other Christian churches are always welcome to partake of the meal of Christian unity as well.

Oh, and on a side note, I appreciate the fact that we use bread and wine rather than flavorless cardboard wafers and grape juice.

4. Catholicity

I appreciate the overall catholicity of the CREC (the denomination my church belongs to). There is a willingness to bring together ideas and practices from a wide range of Christian traditions while still maintaining our core convictions about Scripture. As such I feel a freedom to show my appreciation for Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, Baptists and any other branch of Christendom that may augment and clarify my Christian faith without fear of a xenophobic reaction from my fellow believers.

5. Solid Practical Teaching

It’s really easy for Presbyterians to fall in to the trap of thinking that having perfect doctrine is the essence of Christianity. Presbyterianism has traditionally elevated the logical and cerebral aspects of the Christian faith. I think this is great, being a logic teacher myself. But I also recognize the danger of people who can articulate the doctrine of perichoresis in the Trinity, but have no idea how that doctrine affects them as a mother, father, husband, or wife. Good doctrine should always have practical results. I appreciate the fact that the elders at Providence Church are very concerned with teaching the practical applications of Christian beliefs and not merely content to leave doctrine in the head and not affecting the heart.

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And finally, my sister will appreciate this. It's a picture of our church performing a mysterious fire ritual.

6 comments:

DebD said...

I really liked this. I've been intrigued by your blog since discovering it a few weeks ago via Semicolon. An unusual mix of Protestantism and Roman Catholic quotes. Very interesting :)

I was encouraged that you mention that infants receive the Eucharist in your tradition. Outside of the East that is quite rare these days.

And I liked your 5th point. It's really nice for us Christians to have our theology/doctrine all organized and such but we really cannot know God until we meet him Face to face.

Erica said...

It's so very mysterious!

Providence is an awesome church. But you forgot to mention that you're attempting to recreate Jane Austen's novels. ;-D (Okay, that's only twice a year...)

Rick said...

@DebD,
Thanks for the comment! As far as communing children, there is a growing paedocommunion movement in various parts of the Reformed world right now, especially within the CREC and the Reformed Episcopal Church. There are also a growing number of supporters in the PCA, though the practice itself is not allowed in PCA churches.

Rick said...

@ Erica,

We actually haven't had a Jane Austen type dance in a while. Since pretty much everyone has kids, it's becoming harder and harder to find babysitters if everyone wants to go and do something on the same night. And if you take your toddlers with you, not much dancing gets done.

Some of those young whippersnapper teens in the church have been having dances, but I've heard that they have departed from the Regency Dance gospel and have even veered into the heretical areas of swing dancing and polka.

Erica said...

Polka? Not polka! Anything but that! They're all going to hell for sure now. Next thing you know they'll be listening to that newfangled "rock and roll" all the kids are talking about and wearing ankle-showing poodle skirts. Blasphemy!

Chris said...

Rick, we are hoping to visit Providence Church in early June. The new website looks great! Also, thanks for making the sermon archives available on audio as I have have been able to listen on my commute to and from work. Blessings, Chris