Monday, September 3, 2007

First Sunday in the New Sanctuary

Yesterday was our first day in the new sanctuary. Check out the interior.

In my 10 years of pastoral ministry I've never experienced the range of emotions I felt the week leading up to yesterday. I was feeling a combination of nervous, anxious, and inadequate. Sunday brought more of the same, plus an inexplicable joy that felt uncontrollable, which made me more nervous. I'm as emotional as the next guy, but I have never cried very well. I caught myself fighting back tears several times yesterday. The first almost cry moment was when Nathan and I walked in to the back of the sanctuary before the service (we process from the back) and saw all the people seated and more coming in. Despite the quiet reverence practiced by the congregation while listening to the prelude, you could feel a certain buzz in the air. Sanctuaries like this just aren't built often these days-a place where the architecture alone evokes a certain mood and focus. The second almost cry moment happened after a beautifully played piano prelude piece softly winded down and a short 2 minute organ prelude piece cranked up. We have an Allen digital organ that sounds just like a pipe organ to most (only trained organists would really know the difference) and you can feel it when it plays. As soon as the organ began, heads turned to look at each other in order to acknowledge how majestic the sound was. Nathan and I did the same. I decided long ago that announcements would not be the first words uttered in our new sanctuary, so after the prelude I walked down the aisle, turned and faced the congregation and read a portion of Psalm 118. When I got to verses 23-24- "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it", I had my third almost cry moment. After reading Scripture, I directed the congregation to stand and sing "Praise to the Lord the Almighty" as our first hymn of praise to God in the new sanctuary. The organ played a short intro, then the congregation sang. I have never heard our church sing like that. The acoustics are very live and 400 people sounded like 1000. It was absolutely awesome. Chalk up almost cry moment number 4.

There were several other times I caught myself. I was unusually nervous the whole service. Praise God for liturgy in such times, it keeps you safe and sure. There were handfuls of people joyfully crying throughout the morning. Sometimes I wish I could be more visibly expressive like that. I certainly feel it, even when I don't show it. I thought it was important for me to keep it together, so as not to be a distraction to our purpose that morning- to render praise unto the Living God and be served by Him.

Redeemer is 14 years old. I've been here for 10 of those years. I'm most joyful and happy for those few core families who have been at Redeemer from the beginning. It's so very gratifying to see them able to enjoy such a day in the history of Redeemer.

All was not perfect as we discovered that we will have to take measures to fix the acoustics so vocals sound better. It's great for instruments and singing, but too live for speaking- especially with a fast-talking Yankee as their preacher. We'll be working on that immediately-the acoustics that is- not the fast-talking Yankee, can't do anything about that.

Funny thing is, I absolutely love the building and think it is a very important addition to our ministry, however, it is still the people I minister with and the people I serve that has me stoked about the future. Nathan and Brian are two of the greatest brothers a guy could have to labor with. The elders God has blessed our church with are also tremendous encouragements to me, they are more than fellow elders, they are my brothers and friends. I don't deserve any of these guys. The congregation is filled with precious brothers and sisters who make pastoring a delight. They come ready to eat meat each Sunday and keep me down to earth. There is nothing more invigorating to a pastor than a flock sitting on the edge of their seats (pews now) ready to study the Word and change the world.

I'm not sure what God has for Redeemer, my main goal will be to stay out of the way.


Rick Calohan said...


Yesterday’s service was one I will always cherish, as Dorothy and I walked toward the magnificent sanctuary we could not help but wonder that someday we shall become members. That someday our children to be will be baptized, and grow to know our Lord there, and that with God’s will someday those children will be married and raise their family there. The future of your congregation has built there is very bright indeed.

Everything from the Order of the Service, God’s Holy Word, the prayers, the hymns, the sermon, the communion, the congregation, the choir, the piano/organists, Nathan and you, made it truly divine, wonderful, and awe inspiring. I know in my heart our Lord was pleased not so much on the majesty of the sanctuary which is truly an amazing place but the majesty of the service and the people who have make Redeemer what it is a wonderful place to worship our Lord and Savior. Congratulation to Redeemer-PCA and thank you Tony, you are a wonderful shepherd to your flock.

AJF said...

Rick, you are way too kind brother. Thanks for your encouraging words and may God bless you and your family. It was great seeing you both (three).

malcolm said...

Dont's worry about the man rule about crying. I think I more that made up for both of us. You probably intentionally avoided looking at me or Albright, knowing full well that our faucets would be wide open

AJF said...

The very think I love about you and Albright made me be careful not to make eye contact! It would have sent me over the edge for sure.

M. Jay Bennett said...

One of the things I love so much about PCPC is the sanctuary. The acoustics make for powerful music and singing. I have been part of wonderful congregations whom I deeply loved, but the architecture of the sanctuary just wasn't suitable. No matter how much the people love God and love one another, the setting of worship makes a big big difference.

I rejoice with you!

Kampfgruppe Hoppa said...

Sounds and looks like this past Lord's Day at Redeemer was God honoring and glorifying! Exactly what a Sunday service should be.

Frontier Forest said...

Dear Tony and Nathan,
We prayed for you and the congregation with all diligence! We shared the joy with you in spirit.

Qayaq said...

Maybe you could do a post on what all the "architecture" means. When one walks in it is natural to look up, the tiles on the floor lead the eyes naturally to the altar etc. I think this would be nice and help with the effect that is trying to be achieved.