Monday, November 15, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: The Presbyterian Meeting House

The Pastor’s Perspective
“The Presbyterian Meeting House”
First Published: June 26, 2007

What a glorious Lord’s Day of worship of the Triune God we enjoyed on Sunday, June 24, 2007, our first day of worship services in our new sanctuary. People were here early and lingered long afterwards. I received several encouraging calls before the service from dear friends of our congregation (including a very special message from Claude McRoberts which I’ll share with you later). Both morning services were full. The 11 o’clock service was filled on the floor and balcony, and the 8:30 service was almost as full. Your singing in the morning was heavenly, and what a joy to be able to hear one another again as we sing! Derek’s preaching on Sunday evening was powerful, and you filled up the 800-something seat floor of the meeting house, and sang with gusto!

In my remarks prior to the mornings services, I shared the following. On Sunday morning, October 9, 1853, Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer (then the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC, later the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, New Orleans – who incidentally preached the dedication of our second sanctuary here in Jackson in 1892) said in his sermon dedicating the new church building for First Columbia – “As for this building, beautiful as it may be in our eyes, let it please us to call only a plain Presbyterian meeting house. The glory we see in it, let it not be the glory of its arches and its timbers; not the glory of its lofty and graceful spire, pointing ever upwards to that home the pious shall find [with] God; not the glory of this chaste pulpit, with its delicate tracery and marble whiteness; not the glory found in the eloquence or learning of those who, through generations, shall here proclaim the gospel; nor yet the glory traced in the wealth and fashion, refinement and social position of those who throng its courts. But let its glory be The Glory of the Lord Risen Upon It! Let its glory be the promises of the covenant engraved upon its walls, which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Let its glory be found in the purity, soundness, and unction of its pastors; in the fidelity and watchfulness of its elders; in the piety and godliness of its members. Let its glory be as a birthplace of souls, where shall always be heard the sobs of awakened penitence and the songs of newborn love. Let its glory be the spirituality of its worship, its fervent prayers, its adoring praise, and the simplicity and truth of its ordinances and sacraments. Let its glory be the communion of saints, who here have fellowship one with another and also with the Father and his son, Jesus Christ. Let its glory be as the resting place of weary pilgrims toiling on toward the heavenly city—the emblem of that Church above—Where congregations ne’er break up, And Sabbaths never end.”

Amen! May the glory of the Lord be so manifest in your hearts and lives and public worship, through the grace of Christ in the Gospel, that those who gather with us to join in his praise will ever say, surely God is among you (1 Corinthians 14:25), and surely the Lord is in this place (Genesis 28:16).

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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