Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comfort Food

The Cathedral of York in York, England

 When I think of comfort foods, I think of macaroni and cheese like my mother used to make.  It was rich with cheese and had a wonderful crunchy topping.  Then, there is chili, which is great on a cold night.  Once again, my mother’s recipe hits the spot with just enough “kick” to make it delicious.  Each one of us could probably come up with a list of favorites that somehow remind us of home and bring a deep satisfaction to our appetite.  
     As I was thinking about comfort foods the other day, I thought about the elements of worship that have brought me great comfort since the days of my youth.  Being raised in a Presbyterian Church, we sang the Gloria Patri (Glory Be to the Father) each Sunday, along with the Doxology.  I learned early to recite from memory the Apostle’s Creed and “The Lord’s Prayer”.  These were staples in our worship each week, and hence, became a warm comfort to me in my worship of God.
     During our 40th wedding anniversary trip to Europe, my husband and I found ourselves in the Cathedral of York, England during Evensong worship.  The service was already in progress so we could not go into certain areas of the cathedral.  The tour guides had us go, instead, into the crypts below the main floor to learn about the history of the church and the various bishops buried there.  As we were walking along, the faint smell of sweet incense reached us coming from the worship above.  Then, the ethereal music from the choir and organ echoed throughout every corner of the cathedral.  It was a moment that made us feel as though we were, indeed, in the presence of a holy God.  We ventured into several chapels that were open to spend a moment in quiet prayer.  We left with a sense of overwhelming peace and awe having seen such a great structure and heard praises being lifted up to God.   It became evident to me, at that time, that passing along to my children and grandchildren the key elements of the faith and worship were important, so that they also would find them a great comfort in their lives.
Inside the Cathedral at York, England
      In his letter to the young Pastor Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote:  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writing, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).  We know from earlier in Paul’s writing that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had taught him the basic elements of the faith.  Here Paul reminded him to continue to study and become wise in scripture and follow the teachings of the Apostles.  Scripture does not view tradition negatively.  Rather, scripture assumes that cultures, families and individuals will pass on the ideas, values and customs to one another.  Faithful men and women who have proclaimed the truth of the Gospel have handed down our faith from generation to generation.
       Recently, I read an interesting book review in “Modern Reformation” magazine published by “The White Horse Inn”.  The reviewer was Micah Everett an associate professor of music at the University of Louisiana in Monroe and also a member of the Calhoun Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Calhoun, Louisiana.  The book was entitled “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns:  How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal” by Dr. T. David Gordon.  This review was so interesting that I downloaded the book on my Kindle and have been challenged by it since beginning to read it.                                                                   Dr. Gordon served as a pastor for nine years and now presently teaches religion and Greek at Grove City College.  He also teaches humanities and media ecology.  He looks at what has changed and happened in our current worship of God and how modern culture has been reshaping our approach.   This book will challenge your thinking as it has challenged mine when it comes to our worship of God.  However, I now understand why I find such comfort in the elements of worship that have been handed down to me by my parents and grandparents.
     Just as I find comfort in a bowl of chili on a frosty night and remember my home of origin, so I also find great comfort in the worship of God among the fellowship of other believers on Sunday mornings.  May we never forsake the worship of God and the fellowship of the saints!  It is not only our heritage but also a reminder of our heavenly home and Father.  Selah!

What brings you comfort in your worship?  I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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