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Canadian Worship Experience

We have recently returned from vacation in Shenandoah National Park and the Canadian Maritime Provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia).  It was a wonderful time with family and just special time away for us as a couple.  Beginning today, I will be picking back up the mantle of writing regular blog entries.             While traveling we had some interesting worship experiences.  During our two weeks in Canada we planned on attending The United Church of Canada (a Canadian merger of essentially mainline denominations – including Methodists – that took place in the 1925).  The first of those Sundays we participated in a nice service held in a small fishing village adjacent to Fundy National Park.  It was engaging but nothing unusual.  Our second Sunday was a different experience.             We were staying in a very rural part of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia that is known for summer retreats and seasonal visitors.  We had seen a variety of brightly lettered signs inviting us to the Margaree Valley United Church for 9:30 a.m. worship.  We checked out where the church was located on Saturday evening and drove over Sunday morning.  Another family just in front of us was also coming for a visit.  At the church no one was present.  The door was unlocked but no one was there!  With some disgust the other tourists left.  Jolynn went inside and rummaged around for a while.  She finally found a bulletin from the previous week announcing that next week’s service (i.e. the Sunday we were there) was cancelled and a combined service was being held at the “Centerville” church (the other church on the circuit).  There were no directions to the other church, no address you could put in your Garmin, nothing was put out to help someone (anyone!) on where to go to worship God on that Sunday.  With disgust, we gave up. On the way back to our cottage, we came across the Baptist Church.  The service was contemporary with some blending of traditional music; evangelical, engaging (we discussed the message and “winsomeness” of the worship all afternoon).  The Sanctuary was nearly full (mind you this was a mid-July worship in vacation region near Cape Breton National Park)! Jolynn and I thought we’d go back to that church even though we had some sharp disagreements in theology.  The Margaree United Church knows that the days of Christendom are over but is still acting like they aren’t.  They believe in hospitality but don’t really practice it (at least not with an eye to the stranger.)  In the Baptist Church, Christ was Lord.  The faith mattered in a deep way, and they were sold out committed to reaching others with the news of Jesus.  God had blessed us with a painful and illuminating experience.  Small wonder The United Church of Canada is dying and the Baptist Church is thriving.