Monday, April 12, 2004

So – now I’ll discuss the sermon at the Nampa First Church of the Nazarene. The worship service was interesting:

Lots of singing (mix of traditional Easter hymns and praise music)
More singing
Offertory (no presentation of offertory – once the plates were done passing around that was the end of that part)
Bible Reading

They get their music out of the way early. For communion, the pastor said it was open table, but that if you had unresolved sin he asked that you confess it to Jesus and ask for forgiveness before taking the elements. Anyway…

The pastor was preaching from John 20. Frankly, I’m not sure what the point was of his sermon. He talked for quite a while, but a lot of it was kind of nonsensical. One of the points he made was in relation to Mary Magdalene going to the tomb and being upset at the absence of Jesus’ body. The pastor said, (my best recollection of his words) “Here was Mary Magdalene at the epicenter of human history, and she was concerned about a missing corpse.” His point seemed to be that this stupid woman was completely missing the point. However, that seems pretty unfair when you consider the very next part of that same chapter is Jesus appearing to Thomas who wouldn’t believe without seeing. The pastor didn’t criticize Thomas.

Also, when John 20: 8-9 says the other disciple (John) enters the tomb, sees the empty clothes, and believes. But the next sentence says, “(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)” The pastor was criticizing Mary Magdalene for not knowing scripture, when John says Peter and John didn’t know it either. It seemed the pastor wanted to show Mary Magdalene as a poor, stupid woman who loved Jesus in spite of her ignorance. But the disciples weren’t exactly shining paragons of knowledge and good sense either. What’s the point in criticizing Mary Magdalene?

I really don’t have much else to say. I think the point of his sermon was that Jesus was resurrected and we should be happy. But I’m not exactly sure, either. He was very repetitive and the message was pretty simple. I’m hoping I just tuned out and missed what he was trying to say, rather than my understanding being all that there was.

My impression of the church was that it was mostly style, and not much substance. It was scripted down to the minute and felt like a show, more than a church service. I’m having trouble nailing down (probably a poor analogy for an Easter service) what bothered me about the service. I mostly just feel unsatisfied and empty. It’s a good thing that I don’t feel that way after church at home.

As a side note, I did some reading today about the differences between Nazarenes and Methodists. Apparently Nazarenes come from the “holiness” movement and believe in a two-part process of salvation. First comes “regeneration” which is your basic ticket to heaven, but if you are a dutiful, devoted, and faithful Christian you can achieve “Christian perfection” through sanctification.



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