Grand Princess Chapel Service
"Fix your thoughts on whatever is true and right and honorable and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
The service aboard the ship provided me with some firsts:
Because it took place in a lounge, a person could bring along their drink. That should drive the Pentecostals and Baptists crazy, but the Lutherans would think it was pretty cool.
Next, it took place at 4:45 p.m., the thinking probably that earlier might interrupt people's sleep. We're on a cruise, after all.
Finally, the ship's Captain of Fun (okay that's not his actual title) ran the service rather than a preacher. And if you think it doesn't take much training to be a preacher, you are sadly mistaken.
We began with an old song, and I forgive them for that this week, as the median age is 104, and you must provide worship music from people's repertoire. Next we greeted one another, a rather easy task as the obvious first question is, "Where are you from?" since everyone is from somewhere else. We sang another song, "How Great Thou Art,' then he had a commoner read from Philippians. Rather than preach in it, he read the poem about footsteps in the sand. You know, there were two sets of footprints, then when things got tough there were only one. "That's when I carried you." I like the other one, when things got tough and there was one set and two grooves. "That's when I dragged you."
We read a prayer of confession of sin and a another of thanksgiving and that was about it. Quite a short service, probably less than a half hour.
Call me a cynic, and I am happy they provided a service, but it felt like a token gesture. I would think with 2,000 guests, they could find a preacher. Or, they manage to come up with comedians and dancers, couldn't they entice a retired preacher with a discounted cruise in exchange for a nice service?
Should you doubt my opinion (perish the thought!) of the token gesture, the 10 a.m. Bible study was even more lame. A dozen of us showed up in the wedding chapel and a crew member set up a card table, put a dozen Bibles on it and left. We sat and crossed and uncrossed our legs for awhile, then a man took charge. We introduced ourselves and one man indicated his wife was studying for her Doctor of Divinity, so she was unanimously elected leader. See, a bunch of folks without direction can organize.
She asked anyone if they would like to study anything and a Catholic lady indicated it was Epiphany time, so we read Matthew 2. My insight on this? A couple of things: Within a couple of years of the angels singing, "Peace on earth good will toward men," Herod killed all the firstborn males. Wow. Also, we're painfully aware of the Connecticut school shootings, but this was much bigger, and the king could do as he pleased. Horrible. Finally, God can succeed in spite of man's most aggressive struggles against him.
While the Bible study and service weren't much as far as organized or well executed, two or more gathered together in His name, and He was in the midst of us. And that's what's important.