Monday, July 26, 2010
Evening Worship and Why I Like It
Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed evening worship. Part of this is nostalgia, but this does not render it any less significant. Journeys with my father to old Fourth Reformed in Grand Rapids, perhaps stopping in to see my grandparents briefly before the "long" 20 minute ride home, conversations less important for their content than the fact they happened. Later in life, the sonorous Bronx accent of Charles W. Krahe, so striking to Midwestern ears, on the Seventh Reformed broadcast on the car radio on treks back to Hillsdale College after weekends at home.
Then, the delight of listening to John R. de Witt at the grand, long, full evening services at Seventh Reformed when I was privileged to serve under him: multiple weeks on the story of Blind Bartimaeus by the roadside begging, expositions of Genesis, chapter by chapter, and the singing of sturdy, old hymns.
In our present context, an informal setting, sometimes with heart-stirring spontaneous prayer, different hymn tunes and instruments than the morning, and folks lingering a good while afterwards in fine Christian fellowship and the cords of love.
I have pleasant associations with evening worship. Yet, that is not the only reason I like evening worship. I would greatly miss it if I served a church that did not worship, whether together, or in small groups in homes, on Sunday evenings.
1.) As many have noted, a Sunday without evening worship can, and often does, become the Lord's hour, not the Lord's Day. I notice this when I travel and stay with family. Our Sabbath evening ritual gives a nice balance to the day, keeps Christ in view, and prepares us for the week ahead.
2.) Evening worship has a different feel and flavor. Even if the format of worship is the same, the timbre of it has always differed at night. I have noticed this from my youth, to my days in seminary at First Presbyterian here, in Virginia, and our evening services at Trinity. Sunday morning has a majestic, rousing feel, and Sunday evenings have a softer, intimate feel.
3.) Compared to our ancestors, we sit under a paltry amount of preaching. Sermons have grown shorter and shorter, and services fewer and fewer. Most churches no longer have midweek prayer and preaching services (we don't either, though I often wish we did). Evening worship gives us another opportunity to hear from God.
I hope no-one will take this as necessarily an indictment against not having evening worship. It is more a plea for an old way that has fallen off in many quarters, and which I, for one, am sad to see go.