on North Capitol Street in Washington, DC
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for He will speak peace to His people,
to His faithful,
to those who turn to Him in their hearts.
- Psalm 85:8
On Sunday, June 10, Nancy B and I knew that we wanted to attend worship somewhere, but we also wanted to help with Selah’s fifth birthday party, which the kids planned for lunch-time. So we researched churches that hold early services. Plymouth Congregational UCC is in the District of Columbia, but it’s quite close to Takoma Park, where the kids live. Besides, over the years that I’ve been with Bethel, I have heard Plymouth’s senior pastor, Rev. Graylan Hagler, speak at Central Atlantic Conference Annual Meetings several times, but I had never heard him preach in a regular worship setting. Also, Nancy and I both have a happy history of worshiping with predominantly Black church groups, so were looking forward to this visit.
We parked behind the building and started looking for the entrance. This was a real question, because they were in the midst of remodeling the building. We tried one door, but we quickly saw that it opened into the front of the sanctuary, so we let it close and started to go on around. But that first door flew back open, and smiling people urged us to come on in! The man and woman who had invited us in introduced themselves, asked our names, and took us around the sanctuary to meet everyone who was already there. During the worship service, the worship leader asked Nancy and me to stand and be recognized— they had remembered our names, and introduced us again!
The congregation, that morning, consisted mostly of older adults. The hymns and special music were led by one man playing a baby grand piano (Nancy says, “It’s a Steinway!”] and another on drums. One interesting feature of the service was one of their Deacons reading us a selection from a book about Otto von Bismarck, a German leader in the late 1800s. It seemed that such unpredictable readings are a regular thing there at Plymouth.
Rev. Hagler preached on Mark 3:19-35, which was also read at Bethel, that morning. His sermon was called, “There’s something wrong with the boy!” He made the point that, when we serve God, other people may say that we are out of step with the world as it is... but that just shows that the world doesn’t appreciate God’s ways: it doesn’t mean that we followers of Jesus are in the wrong.
This Summer, when you are away from Bethel, make it a point to visit a church wherever you go.
Then come home to Bethel and tell us something good! Maybe we can learn and improve.
... this is the pledge of our inheritance
toward redemption as God's own people,
to the praise of His glory. -Ephesians 1:14