On Sunday, August 24, the last day of my vacation, I attended worship at the “Church-on-the-Porch.”
You may not have heard of it.
The porch belongs to my brother Gray, who lives in Summerville, South Carolina, not far from Charleston. I had stayed overnight at his house on the way back from the beach and since I was still on vacation and not really in the mood to get up early, shake the sand out of my shoes, and go to someone else’s church I asked if we could have a family worship service instead. That seemed like a good idea to almost everybody.
We gathered around the table on the screened back porch rather late on Sunday morning. Some of us were still in our pajamas, several of us were having a second cup of coffee, all of us seemed to be enjoying the novelty of the experience. I had located the lectionary readings earlier and my sister-in-law, Debby, volunteered to read Psalm 124. When she finished, I asked the congregation to offer up silent prayers of adoration, which we did, distracted only slightly by a neighbor cranking up his lawnmower.
That’s how the service progressed: a reading from one of the four lectionary passages, followed by some time for reflection and discussion, and then a prayer. I used the old acronym “ACTS” to guide us through prayers of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. The prayers of adoration and confession we did silently; the prayers of thanksgiving and supplication we offered aloud. It was moving to hear what each member of our little congregation was thankful for, and tender to hear their requests for prayer.
The time went by quickly and I was surprised to see, when I looked at my watch later, that we had been at it for more than an hour. As we talked about it over lunch we agreed that although we wouldn’t want to do it that way every week the service had been perfect for the occasion. The insights shared in our discussion of the Scriptures were as relevant and helpful as any we might have heard elsewhere. The prayers made it a real worship experience and not just a Bible study. Perhaps the only thing missing was a rousing hymn or a soaring soprano solo which my brother’s dog tried to make up for by barking at a passing motorcycle near the end of the service. It wasn’t all that musical, but it came from the heart, and when it comes to worship…
…that’s what matters most.