Several days ago when visiting neighbor Anna came over to practice the piano, she invited us to hear her dad preach. We were happy to go, wanting to hear Robert and to worship in Amy’s church. I thought it would be very special to be there when Amy heard her son. Unfortunately, Ron wasn’t doing well, so Amy stayed home with him.
That Baptist church gave us the warmest welcome we’ve had in any church here. Of course, we were spotted as strangers and asked to stand up to introduce ourselves. Thank heavens John thought quickly and said the perfect thing, that we were Amy’s neighbors and came to hear Rob. As soon as the people heard Amy’s name, they murmured appreciatively. It was like being given a warm, vocal caress.
The young people were asked to go forward to sing, and Anna (wearing blue) gamely went with the others. Because we were sitting behind everyone else, I didn’t feel conspicuous snapping a photo. The woman ahead of me heard the sound and moved further down her pew, giving me a clearer view.
The music was something else. They had piano, bass, and two guitars on a WEDNESDAY EVENING! In Setauket, we had difficulty getting that many musicians on Easter Sunday! I had a hard time tearing my eyes from the bass, never having seen an electronic one before. The upper part looked like a double bass from an orchestra, but the lower part was missing. It made me feel I was looking at a person with a prosthetic leg. The sound was good, though. After the service, many people came over to shake our hands. I enjoyed talking with the pianist. I asked if she plays on Sunday, too, and she does. John told her I had played for our church, and she asked if I played by ear or by notes. I guessed correctly that she plays by ear. We agreed that it’s a gift that can’t be taught. If it could, I would have tried to learn long ago, having always envied people who could create music with nothing in front of their eyes.
How special it was to hear Rob peach! I think you’d call it the expository style, where you read a section of scripture and expound on it. Lutherans talk about “scripture alone”, but Baptists practice it routinely. Rob referred to things in Egypt, and the congregation was right there with him. In West Tennessee we used to poke fun at ourselves with the “Amen corner”. A group of men in the back would say Amen when they agreed with some point from the pulpit. Here the people participated all around the church as they murmured words in agreement with what Rob was saying. I never thought about an interactive sermon, but it must be something akin to applause. The preacher has instant feedback, and the lack of it might mean you’ve lost your audience. Rob didn’t lose his.
I longed for Amy to be there, and Ron, too. Here was their child, a son of the congregation, addressing the church. It would make any parent’s heart swell. Perhaps someone else made a recording that is much better, but I taped it with my phone.