Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ustick Baptist's

I went to a Baptist service this past Sunday. It was the Ustick Baptist Church, a big building that’s near my house so I see it every day and wanted to go in there. Interestingly the Ustick Baptist Church is not located on Ustick Road, the remnant of a small town by that name that was absorbed by the city of Boise probably close to a century ago. Anyway there old building in Ustick they sold a number of a years ago and that structure now houses a congregation of Russian emigrant Evangelicals, whose own English language Christmas reach out service I attended back in 2002 with Chad and the tragically passed Megan Thomas. Anyway a lot of singing at the Baptists service on Sunday, I’d say I even had a limited spiritual experience there. I even got to be the bell ringer for my pew. But this holiday has really been made the presence of visiting friends and the fact that there is actually snow on the ground in the Boise valley for a change.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Two Christmas Services

Though decedent from the New England puritans, the Congregationalist’s as represented by the United Church of Christ, have now become one of the nations most notably liberal Christian denominations, perhaps passed only by the far left faction of the divided Episcopal Church in America. Boasting the likes of Barack Obama and Howard Dean among its membership, I had certain expectations, but the service I attended this morning was not overtly political, though peace was a major theme. It was the children’s Christmas pageant, a nativity play the aimed for the slightly quirky and focused on a former member of king Herod’s guard, turned shoe shiner, who encounters various players from the well known tale over the course of about a night (in this case around 40 minutes), with John the Baptists appearance being highly un-chronological. The kid who played Joseph was the only one who really attempted characterization, though he went for the unusual by playing Mary’s husband as if he where Martian Star, or perhaps a Muppet. Traditional Christmas songs were mixed with a few I hadn’t recalled hearing, such as "We Are Marching in the Light of God", a hand clapping number which I quite enjoyed. A pleasant pastor, brass instruments, and one of the more moving group recitations of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ that I have participated in, rounded out the service, immediately after words I made way to the 5th Ward.

The congregation a Mormon attends is generally dictated by a rather tightly held geographic jurisidictionalism. However right now I find myself in the odd position of having as many as four LDS Wards that I might technically be eligible to attend. One of these is the BUI 5th ward, a congregation with a healthy representation of young, single people who have started on there post-college careers, a class I have recently entered. I found them having there Christmas "pageant" as well, a week early do to the propensity of this demographic to go visit there parents for the actual holiday. It was a well done service, quite satisfying, and had an unusually diverse (by Mormon standards) collection of musical numbers, one possibly in Latin. Memorable where songs sung from the perspectives of Mary and Joseph (the latter a male solo with harp accompaniment taken from the Mormon Christmas musical ‘The Forgotten Carols’). Also performded was a Book of Mormon themed Christmas song, perhaps the only I’ve ever heard, from the perspective of Samuel the Lamanite Prophet who foretold the birth of Jesus to the people of the New World five years before the advent. Sunday School and Priesthood services broke from the Christmas theme for lessons on Revelations and the Prophet Joseph Smith respectively.