Since the service I was pastoring on post has ended due to the U.S. military moves to Camp Humphreys (more on the final service can be found here), I’ve been able to attend other worship services. Last week I was at Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene north of Seoul. This week I attended two services: the “Traditional Protestant” service at the hospital chapel and the Episcopal service, also at the hospital chapel.
Traditional Protestant Service
The Traditional Protestant service is the one most of the congregation from my service at Memorial Chapel chose to attend. There were 20 of them there today, that’s about half of my previous congregation and almost half of the attendance today. As I walked in, it felt like a reunion as many from my congregation greeted me as though it had been months or years since they last saw me, even though it had just been two weeks. It was a great feeling!
The makeup of this congregation caused me to think about what has gone on in the United States over the past couple of weeks. There was an almost even mixture of white Americans, black Americans, Korean Americans and Korean nationals. It was not a surprise that everyone got along -contrary to what you see on T.V.- since we’re all part of the family of God. The time of worship and fellowship was reminiscent of a family gathering of siblings and cousins. We’re not all the same, but we have a common purpose: to love, serve and worship God, our common creator and Savior.
As it turned out, the pastor of the congregation was away, so there was a visiting chaplain there (Chaplain Yoo, the 65th Medical Brigade Chaplain). He shared a message from Jabez’s prayer about praying boldly and earnestly to our God who loves and cares for us. He also sang a song as part of his sermon-a tool I’m not gifted to be able to do! The rest of the service was a customary traditional service with hymns, prayer and an offering. Communion is just celebrated twice a month in this congregation, which will take some getting use for my congregation since we were accustomed to celebrating it every Sunday. It was, however, a good service, with familiar elements making the presence of God felt and acknowledged.
Even when I was pastoring the Liturgical Service at Memorial Chapel, when I got away in time I would often attend the Episcopal service at the hospital chapel. I have filled in and preached there before, as has the Episcopal chaplain for my service. I enjoy the liturgy and sacramental emphasis of the service and always leave spiritually nourished. Not being sure if I would be able to attend next week (my last Sunday in Korea) I stayed to attend it after the Traditional Protestant service.
The chaplain preached from the Gospel Lectionary lesson for this Sunday, the parable of the Good Samaritan, tying in the tragic events of the last couple of weeks in the U.S. This service, being a “flagged” Episcopal service, followed the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) so included all of the elements normally part of a liturgical or sacramental service, including the celebration of communion.
The Episcopal service has a small choir of 3 which, along with the organist, greatly contributes to the service. Members of the congregation participate not only in the responsive readings and prayers, but also as Scripture readers and prayer leaders. Since it is a specific denominational service, it is smaller, but the size also lends itself to a family feel with a strong sense of community.
I always enjoy the service when I attend and today was no exception. I’ve appreciated the ministry and friendship of Chaplain Budez as we have shared a common liturgy in our worship services and a strong desire for a “sacramental” worship service in the Yongsan community.
Just for fun, here’s a short video of part of the Communion liturgy from the Episcopal service. Sorry for the poor quality, but it will at least give you a glimpse of this part of the service: