First Wilmington (Derek & Rebekah go to church)

First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington

I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
 And now here we are,
    standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.

Psalm 122:1-2
– Rebekah and Derek go to church

This adventure has been – and continues to be – a most interesting exercise. Rebekah and I show up at church Sunday mornings to worship – that is first and foremost, but we are also wondering what it might be like to settle in somewhere, and become part of that particular community of faith.

In a sense, then, I’m a little like one of those “Secret Shoppers,” and I am beginning to understand a lot about first impressions.

A good Sunday in Wilmington:

This Sunday (and just only the second time since we left Wake Forest Presbyterian Church) I felt a strong sense of peace and connection from my first visit at a church. But again – even more so than our visit to Trinity Avenue Presbyterian in Durham – the church is too far away.

First Wilmington occupies a massive, neo-Gothic, stone structure in downtown, so it is not the kind of building Rebekah and I have been used to at any of the churches where she served. The pulpit is elevated, accessed by stairs; the uncomfortable wooden pews run straight back a long nave; the order of worship is much more highbrow and formal; the music is traditional; people are more formally dressed…

In other words, I would not have expected to feel comfortable, engaged, filled, and inspired.

But I was – we were. Because life was so evident in the church. Both pastors were full of enthusiasm and engaging; the preaching (thanks, Dan Lewis), was excellent; the baptism was not just beautiful but charged with real life.

Thank you for this witness to life:

Rebekah and I both felt as if we had been in the presence of God, fed by God’s word, and part of a congregation that was vibrant, alive, and well.

Last week I wrote a couple of posts about the critical need for The Church to present its witness with all the passion and excellence new life in Jesus represents. “We are not interested,” I wrote in a prayer, “in mediocre or unremarkable. We want our life in you to be defined by excellence.

One post focused on excellence and another on people being unmotivated to return to church.

So thanks, First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, for telling the truth about the Good News of Jesus, simply by being.

I plan to write a little about Dan’s message later in the week. But this is enough for today, and I have beach photos to share too from our too short but wonderful weekend away.

Peace, and have an amazing week – DEREK

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