Sunday Service Survey
In the good city of Pasadena, California, over 100 churches serve its population of 138,000 souls. On a recent visit, it seemed we drove by at least half of them on Sunday morning, on our way to photograph the Gamble House, an architectural treasure I’ll tell you more about on Wednesday–and one that sits next door to Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church of Pasadena.
Churches are everywhere in Pasadena, it seems. Name the denomination, and the city is home to one or more congregations. They inhabit all kinds of buildings, from the classic beauty of Westminster Presbyterian to the storefront edfice that’s home to Community Harvest Foursquare, pictured above. If you prefer nondenominational churches, Pasadena has plenty of those to select from, too.
On this particular Sunday morning, we were not attending any corporate worship services. We were passing a close-in long weekend getaway celebrating our wedding anniversary, and we planned to spend the day at the Griffith Observatory before enjoying an intimate dinner out later that evening.
But first we needed to take photos at the Gamble House. Our camera battery had expired during our visit there the day before, so we planned to return to take photos. No interior photography is allowed; we’d lose nothing by returning to take pictures before the facility opened to the day’s visitors. But our hotel was at perhaps the farthest point in Pasadena from Gamble House, so we drove, passing church after church. After church.
The Methodists were gathering as we drove by; the mass at the Catholic church nearby was just ending, people spilling into the courtyard. We saw children laughing on the swings at the playground of a large non-denominational church. Outside Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church, I watched as a dark-haired woman in a gray dress raced back to her car, retrieved a lacy shawl, then hurried up the steps leading to the sanctuary’s doors.
“Why are you crying?” I heard Rich ask, and I had to reach up, put a hand to my own face to realize he was right. Tears slid from behind my sunglasses down my cheeks. I wiped at them and sniffled.
“I’m not sure,” I told him. “There’s just something about watching everyone as they come and go from services. All these different churches, different dress, different music, different traditions. But they’re all worshiping the same risen Savior. Our Savior.”
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 1:18-23 (NASB)
I’m sharing today with Michelle DeRusha for Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday.