Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Worship at Indiranagar Methodist Church

Donna was not feeling well today—apparently just a cold—so I went to church alone. I selected Indiranagar Methodist Church because it is within walking distance of our service apartment and I could find it without getting lost. A search of the web and the city guides we have yielded no definite time for service, but possible times of 9:00 and 9:30. I set out at shortly after 8:30 and arrived a little before 9. As I arrived Sunday school was taking place on the front steps. About a dozen elementary school aged kids were sitting on the steps and a woman was reading to them. I don’t know if there were any other age groups meeting elsewhere.

The front door led directly into the sanctuary which appeared to take up most of the building. There was another space to the right of the sanctuary which had a roof and walls of bamboo (not weather proof). There were plastic patio chairs set up in that area and by the end of the service many were occupied.

As I entered the musicians were warming up and someone was testing microphones. There were already perhaps a dozen people in the pews waiting for the service to begin. By about 9:10 the musicians were ready and organist began to play softly. There were a few more people in the pews by then and more coming in quietly and sitting down. Those who said "hi" to friends did so in a whisper. There was a screen and a projector setup and about this time it began to show a series of bible verses. The verse changed every 20-30 seconds until the service started about 9:30 without any repeats. I tried to detect a pattern or theme for the morning in what verses were shown but could not.

Just before 9:30 the service began with the reading of a psalm. There was no welcome or introduction. After the psalm we sang a hymn; an electronic organ and a violin played for all the hymns we all sang together. There was an official Methodist Hymnal, published in Nashville, TN, USA, 1964 in the pew. The words but not the music were displayed in PowerPoint. The responsive reading was from the hymnal but was also shown on the screen.

Next the liturgist invited “the worship team” to come forward. This was the musicians who had been warming up at 9:00. Three were young men, probably high school students who played drums, electric guitar and acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitarist also sang. There was a young woman, probable a few years out of high school and a middle aged man and women who sang. The middle aged man was the leader. He introduced each song with a few words about the message of the song and how it connected to the theme for the morning which he said was “The character of Jesus”. On the first song they ask the congregation to stand and for the chorus to sing and do the motions. Everyone sang but not everyone did the motions. In addition to these six there were about 30 choir members who sang all of the verses with the worship team. The congregation sang all of the choruses. One song was new and the leader spent some time teaching the words of the chorus to the congregation before they sang it. PowerPoint had all of the words for both verses and choruses but had difficulty staying in sync with the singers.

Before the last song the minister made an announcement something like: “If you have come here today grateful for some special blessing or if you have come hoping for forgiveness our alter is open to you. Please come up to the alter rail during this hymn.” As the singing began many people began to move forward. I was feeling very grateful to be there so I went forward. There was room for about 25 people to kneel at the rail but it was filled by the time I got there. I joined the first row standing behind those kneeling and another row quickly filled in behind us. After the singing the pastor prayed a prayer which covered pretty much any reason someone might have come to the alter.

At the start of the service there had been perhaps 150 people in the main sanctuary which could hold perhaps 300. By this time, half an hour into the service there were about 250 people in the sanctuary plus some in the side room and some in the balcony. A few more people arrived as the service continued with scripture reading, another hymn and the offering.

During the offering PowerPoint showed the announcements for the week, looping through them 2-3 times. The offering was taken up in cloth bags with wooden handles, similar to those used in many Catholic churches in the US. When the bags were brought to the front, the liturgist collected them on a large tray and placed them on the alter. Then the pastor read the same announcements while they continued to loop on the screen—out of sync with the speaker. The pastor asked anyone here for the first time to stand up. I did as did about 5 others. They brought each of us in turn a wireless mike to say our name, where we were from and what brought us there. One other person was from US—Texas. Several were college students. One woman said she had come to Bangalore looking for work so please pray for her to find a job. The pastor said “Don’t worry, you will find work in Bangalore.”

Then they had a report from a group who had gone to visit HIV positive kids in an orphanage. They had photos of the group doing various things with the kids on PowerPoint while a woman gave the report.

Then the pastor gave his sermon. Apparently he had not coordinated with the Worship Team who’s theme was the character of Jesus. The sermon was about King Solomon and where he went wrong. I don’t think Jesus was mentioned once. It was a good 50 minute sermon…it would have been an even better 25 minute sermon. By the way, Solomon went wrong because of: Ignorance of the Instructions, Ignorance of Accountability, and Ignorance of God. By ignorance he meant the act of ignoring. After the final hymn and a blessing everyone filed out of the church and dispersed fairly quickly although one man made a point of finding me and asking about what I did at IBM.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Hi Donna and Joe!! I love your descriptions of life in Bangalore. Great visual of the church and what was said. Was the service in English? If not, you must understand a great deal of the language there. Amazing! Thanks for sharing your life experiences there. I can almost picture what it is life. We love you both and think of you so often!! Keep writing updates as I look forward to them so much. Love, Karen