my dad is coming to visit so the house is in an uproar as we try to make up for 10 years' worth of ignoring the interior so it looks at least a little presentable. which is a long way of saying that my wife had declared the shower off-limits yesterday. I wanted to attend a church service but didn't relish the thought of doing so scruffy and with much sweat from the day before, so I decided this was a good opportunity to try an online service.
I spent about 10 minutes choosing one--there are of course many, many to choose from--but this one sounded interesting. while I was interested in the topic, I was also interested in the existence of alpha as a completely web-based church. this is a field that interests me as I work out the concept of an online alternative to brick-and-mortar sermons and services especially geared to teens and tweens and young adults.
the service was quick, the sermon following immediately after a short prayer and scripture reading. there was no "good morning" or "welcome," simply a direction: "let us begin with a prayer." the sermon was good, a focus on one of the less-talked about and sometimes offensive disciple simon the zealot whose jewish zealotry is sometimes used to illustrate the supersessionism of xianity over judaism. this was not one of those sermons. the preacher, rev. pat walker, called him "the political disciple" and he certainly was, and while I'm not certain I buy her argument that simon was more interested in jesus as a spiritual than a political leader, she offers enough good evidence for that interpretation and it's as good an argument as any. it was a bit hard to follow the sermon as illustrations were constantly changing so it seemed more like a powerpoint presentation than a lecture. that might not be a bad thing, however; perhaps my discomfort is a result of my being unaccustomed to listening to a sermon this way. I will need a few more examples to find out.
but I am unhappy that the sermon is unable to be accessed either as a document or as a searchable audio for later reflection--you play it from beginning to end and if you want to hear something again, you replay the whole sermon. it's not long at all; I timed the whole service at about 20 minutes including the readings. there were no songs (although there was incidental music during the sermon) or opportunities for joys and concerns or community sharing. there was a children's sermon available, which I ignored, and a 10 minute communion, which I opted to take part in. from beginning to end it lasted about 30 minutes, which seemed strange as I'm accustomed to hour-long and longer services and don't shrink from multi-hour fundamentalist meetings. it was a rich service but seemed too quick, and that may again be my reaction against what I'm not used to.
but here is what I liked best about the service: rev. walker's voice. it was straightforward and charming and heartfelt. she probably does the services in a single take as evidenced by her voice occasionally strainging. she stumbles over words and names and sometimes when her audience read along with her she missaid the written words, adding or subtracting from the text. that seemed right to me, a reflection of what a real, felt, honest service sounds like (and a reflection too of my own experience preaching, when I'll often add or subtract words and sentences from my written sermon as seems appropriate, sometimes leading me to stumble). I appreciate that frailty and humbleness in a preacher, one who is less concerned in getting things correct than in getting things right. I am certain to visit this church again.