Yesterday Tom and I attended St. Matthews United Methodist Church in Acton, Massachusetts. It was the closest United Methodist Church and it has a really good website with the worship times front and center. The web site is so up-to-date, that yesterday’s sermon is already available to listen to.
Although the outside of St. Matthews looks like a New England tall steeple church, the church itself is a modern incarnation of that architecture. The sanctuary had padded chairs instead of pews, and tall windows that looked out onto wooded areas on both sides of the sanctuary. The front of the church had a beautiful circular stained glass window depicting the Holy Spirit in dove and fire form. It made me feel that the congregation expected the Holy Spirit to descend during the worship service.
We were warmly greeted as we entered the building and then one of the greeters gave us a bulletin. The congregation seemed to have a lot of people missing, and I noticed that – in the summer – they go to one worship service, while they have two the rest of the year. There weren’t any young children in the service and the average age was older so maybe the younger families head out for vacations or beach homes in the summer.
The Senior Pastor, Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes, was on vacation, so there was a guest preacher, Leslie Walseman who is a Hospice Chaplain. One of the things that was a little unusual about the service was the location of the sermon 15 minutes after the service started. I’m accustomed to sermons being later in the service. The sermon was about Jesus feeding the 5,000, and Ms. Walseman asked us to think about God’s abundance and our tendency to think in terms of scarcity. God abundantly blesses us with gifts of love, joy, hope, faith, and peace. Do we appreciate and share these gifts or do we hold on to them as if they will run out if we share them?
Instead of an organist or pianist, a band accompanied the singing of the hymns. But it wasn’t a praise band: there were two flutists, a trumpet, and a bass clarinet. The congregation was a little uncertain in their singing but I couldn’t tell if it was because they weren’t used to singing with this “band” or if they just didn’t know the hymns. The visiting preacher had picked them out and they were not ones that I have sung very often.
After the service most of the congregation gathered for cupcakes and coffee. Tom and I were invited to come back and also invited to the Chicken BBQ and Jazz Band Concert next Sunday. However, we were also told that the chicken would be hamburgers and hot dogs due to the Bird Flu.
Tom and I will still be in the area next Sunday and we will probably return to St. Matthews. I am hoping the Senior Pastor is back from vacation because people in the congregation speak very highly of him and I would like to hear him preach.