Oh man! I was doing so well posting every day, and now time has gotten away from me...
I didn't get a chance to reflect on the final chapters of our time in Baltimore. We had a very full Sunday, beginning with worship at Cedar Ridge Community Church, the church that Brian McLaren founded.
From there, we made a quick trip to D.C. and arrived with plenty of time for the 11:30 service at National Community Church, Union Station. Much of the service was a repeat of worship at Ebenezer's on Saturday night. Mark Batterson was preaching elsewhere, so the sermon was via video -- a recording of the sermon we heard live on Saturday night. It was my first experience with a sermon on video, and it was much more effective than I'd imagined. I kind of expected it to feel cheesy, or somehow not so authentic, but it was actually kind of cool seeing it on the big screen (in high definition, of course)!
Sara and I did find that the movie theater setting has some limitations: naturally, the space is designed for spectators. People expect when they walk into a theater that they'll be spectators, and the space naturally facilitates that, both physically and psychologically. The theater was dark, except for lights directed at the band and speakers at the front, further enhancing that feeling that we were there to watch something, rather than to be fully engaged. While those attending were certainly participating in the singing, there wasn't a strong feeling of community or of connectedness. There was no opportunity to interact, and with stadium seating, we didn't even feel very connected to the people around us. We noticed people left the theater at the end of the service like they would leave a movie: without any interaction with the people with whom they'd just shared worship. That was a little disappointing. The video sermon was effective, but people didn't laugh or respond in the same way as they had on Saturday night, when there was more of a feeling of personal connection between preacher and congregation.
One neat thing we did observe: there were several seemingly homeless persons in the congregation. One was there when we arrived, taking a nap in the back of the theater -- we suspected he might have been there during previous services, and perhaps finds it to be a place where he can take a nap uninterrupted on Sunday mornings. Another arrived midway through worship, came into the theater, and promptly sat directly between the two people in front of us. It was neat that this space afforded them the opportunity for a little comfort, and I pray that the experience of worship gave them a sense of hope and joy.
We spent the rest of Sunday doing some sightseeing around D.C., and finished with a Sunday evening service at a church in Arlington, VA that was not particularly noteworthy.
We headed home on Monday, opting for an earlier flight than we'd originally scheduled. Rachel was weary from all the traveling. We were glad to arrive home on Monday night!