A major change in leadership in our Friends Church led us to seek another place to worship. This time it was in a dramatically different setting called The Vineyard, where a student of mine was active. The adjustment was jarring, but we became comfortable in a very different setting. But the differences!
First, we were at least 25 years older than most of the attendees. We became parent figures, for better or worse. (Usually better.)
Second, by now we had been Christians for quite a while and were meeting many young adults with no faith background. So we became elders(in an informal sense.)
Third, the music was live and LOUD. So loud in fact that we bought economy sized packages of foam earplugs and kept them in the car to use at each service.
Fourth, there was no physical church, so each Sunday chairs were set up in a school gym and taken down and put away at the end. Fortunately most attendees were in their 20’s and handled this task.
And finally, their music went on for a very long time. And in the culture of this community, people stood, usually with their hands in the air and sang and sang. I usually sat after a few minutes and let the music be a backdrop for my silent reflection.(You can take a Quaker out of meeting, but you can’t take the meeting out of a Quaker.)
While this might seem, at first, to be very similar to the gospel worship at Maranatha, it really wasn’t. Reflecting on the reason, I conclude that the gospel songs at Maranatha were informed by a different theology–that of overcoming together with God’s help. They seemed communal. The Vineyard songs seemed to stress an individual relationship with Jesus. So even though everyone was singing together, it seemed to me that many individuals were having their own personal experiences.
I didn’t find my soul refreshed in the way that it had been both with gospel music and the old hymns, but I treasured the chance to get a glimpse into a contemporary Christian setting. And they served great doughnuts and coffee.