Friday, July 25, 2008

Worship at St. Andrew's Chapel

The Kelley family spent the July 4th weekend in Florida visiting family. In what has become somewhat of a tradition whenever we go to Florida, we visited St. Andrew's Chapel, where Dr. R.C. Sproul is the "Minister of Preaching and Teaching."

On the cover of the program of St. Andrew's Chapel, these words are written:

"We cross the threshold of the secular to the sacred, from the common to the uncommon, from the profane to the Holy."

If anything, the trend in our day is to make the sacred secular, the uncommon common, and to profane the Holy. Just look around and it won't take you long to find an example. For instance, we have a church in our area who's members wear t-shirts around town that say "These are my church clothes." This, I suppose, is their way of poking a thumb in the eyes of legalists. But I think it also demonstrates how this church might have lost sight of the fact that a worship service (if it truly is one) is something special; something worth changing their clothes to attend.

A worship service at St. Andrew's is truly a wonderful experience. The high liturgy of the service is awe inspiring. Everything is done with purpose and with excellence unto God. The music inspires the mind and moves the soul. The hymns are deeply theological, not happy clappy fluff with no substance. There are no hippies with guitars, nor do they sing 3 mindless lines over and over in order to "pump and prime" the crowd.

The reverence in the room is amazing. Unlike anything I've ever experienced. The exposition of Scripture, verse by verse, is something that is esteemed vitally important and central, not simply a means to an altar call. It's almost like stepping into another world: a world that hasn't been effected by the revivalism, humanism, anti-intellectualism, and pragmatism that has conqured so many Evangelical churches of America.

Another recent visitor to St. Andrew's is Brandon Vallorani of American Vision Ministries. In an article published today, he wrote about his visit:
"We began our week by worshipping at St. Andrew’s Chapel in Orlando, where we heard Pastor R.C. Sproul deliver a striking sermon on Matthew 16:19. The reverence and majesty with which God is worshipped at St. Andrews stands in sharp contrast to much of what passes as “worship” in the contemporary church today. Every detail from the architecture to the liturgy reflects an appropriately high view of our Heavenly King. While there’s still an opportunity, I encourage all of you to make your way to R.C. Sproul’s church on the Lord’s Day and experience this taste of heaven for yourselves."

In closing, I think it's disturbing that Christians in our day want to bee-bop up into church with a "Jesus is my homeboy" attitude. The Lord isn't our "homeboy," He's the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They forget that the God they claim to worship is the one who struck down Aaron's sons for offering "strange fire" that He did not command.

After each of my visits to St. Andrew's Chapel, I've always left longing for more. I come away with a vivid reminder that worship is all about God. If you ever get a chance to go to the Orlando area, take a ride up I-4 to Sanford on a Sunday morning. Visit St. Andrew's Chapel. You'll be blessed.

(I took this rather poor quality picture of Dr. Sproul preaching with my cell phone camera from inside the "cry room" where I was with my baby boy.)


Pastor Bob Farmer said...

thanks for the view of St. Andrews. I believe we (that is to say most protestants in general) have lost the sacredness of the worship service. This was my wife's one complaint about Baptist churches coming from a Roman Catholic upbringing. I go back and forth on this issue. I sometimes enjoy the less formal aspects of the assembly in contrast to the high church; however, there are times I long for silence, candles, robes and lofty music. There must be a via media, but most churches will never find it.

Machine Gun Kelley said...

Thanks Bob.

I have often wondered if perhaps, when the current profanation of the "worship service" has run it's course, if we won't see some kind of resurgence of higher liturgy within Protestantism?

Strong Tower said...

T-shirts are my dress clothes... they are all I ever wear, and all that I've got except my Calvin is My Homeboy Sweatshirt that I wear when the weather is cold. Neither prevents me from bowing my head...

To clearify, I do have my "good" T-shirts and then there are my holy ones.

I have thought of wearing a tie, but it looks so weird without a collar 8)

Machine Gun Kelley said...


Please note: I'm not trying to legislate a dress code. I had enough of that in the Pentecostal world.

From personal experience, I can tell you that the church that has those "these are my church clothes" t-shirts is such a circus, that one might ought to dress like a clown when visiting there. :o)


Strong Tower said...

I have seen t's that have ties printed on them. Is that okay? How about it I make a special point of only wearing my Sunday Best t's.

How about if I dress like this.

Disposable Robes might be the way to go.

Machine Gun Kelley said...

That's nice stuff ST!

Strong Tower said...

I actually once had Hawaiian shirts. I looked like a stick with a bandana hung on it.

Ferris E. Plankeye said...

At first I thought that said, "a stick with a BANANA hung on it," and I confess I had a few moments of difficulty with that.

Strong Tower said...

Sorry for the mispelling, but a banana works- least my wife would think so.

Now I got that vision stuck in my mind and its time to go to bed.

Interesting name. Pharisee plankeye, cute.

Now I got that stuck in my mind... its gonna be a long night...

Dusty McDust said...

That post had a lot of good stuff to say. Interesting that this became a dress-code discussion. (That was the one thing I had the slightest problem with--not that I didn't understand your point.) I guess I would concede that the way we dress has truly come to mean a lot, and therefore we should dress "nice" for church.

But at the same time, I always feel like a hypocrite when I clothe myself in a way that doesn't feel like it's me at all. I HATE dressing up. It feels, 100%, like I'm trying to keep other people from judging me--not like I'm trying to please God. In fact, I feel like God is displeased with my decision to put on my "church clothes" for church-going. Because He knows who I am, and I'm not a guy who wears "church clothes." But I do it anyway, and I feel ashamed. I even imagine it's one of the things He'll judge me for at the end of all things.

"So.... why did you put on those pants that you hated most whenever you were coming to worship Me?"

"ummmm.... because they were the pants that most pleased the people there?..."

BERRRRP!!! WRONG ANSWER!!! (actually, it's the right answer, so God lets me into heaven, because He knows that... And He knows I trust completely in His graced through Jesus for my salvation, even though I always wore those stupid "church pants" to avoid making waves with the church people.)

Dusty McDust said...

(sorry about "graced"... you know I meant "grace", right? Anyway, God does. I'm just posting this comment to justify myself before the people... I'm such a well-focused person...)

Ferris E. Plankeye said...

I'm in favor of dressing differently for worship, simply because we're doing something different; and, that (should be) something higher and better and more reverential than we normally do in t-shirts.

Yeah, I get that that's an outward show that may not reflect an inward reality, but a lot of the good things we do at church also fit in that category.

Dusty McDust said...

One of the main thoughts I always have on the subject -- Where in scripture to we see the precedent for this "dressing up for church" behavior? I strikes me as merely a cultural convention. A very powerful and compelling one, yes; but still, only cultural. I've never been struck by it as something God particularly wants from us.

Now, to play devil's advocate with myself--in fact, God calls us to be set apart from the world. And if not in the context of worship, where?? And dressing up in clothes we don't normally wear is definitely one way to do that.

On the other hand, God sees us all naked anyway, right?

And on the third or fourth hand, when the world sees us on Sunday dressed in clothes they'd hate to wear--and which, truth be known, 9 out of 10 of US hate wear (and are wearing primarily so that we won't be judged by the other dressed-up church people)--I'm not sure how great of an impression that leaves on these people outside of church that we're supposed to be concerned about reaching, especially the ones whose closets may not have a well-stocked "church clothes" section. (Of course, for us Reformed folks that's not a huge problem... people who are turned off by the way we insist on dressing for church--and by our arguments in defense of it--are obviously predestined to Hell anyway, so no big deal.)

BTW -- I find that Catholics, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are consistently the most well-dressed church goers. Pristine, baby, let me tell ya.

But the bottom line is, I know nothing... My own church experiences--dressed up or not--have all been 100% human infected crap. So don't mind me or anything I've written here. I'm just a babbler.

Machine Gun Kelley said...


I agree, it is interesting how this discussion is mostly about dress code...

Personally, I think the issue of dress is one of those matters that falls under a Christian's liberty of conscience.

If people want to present themselves for worship looking like they ought to be on the cover of a 1973 Lynyrd Skynyrd, that's fine with me.

The point of this post is that when you visit St. Andrew's, you come away with a profound sense that worship in lots of church can be somewhat lacking in the area of reverence.

Btw, during this visit, I was wearing a pair of Arizona jeans and a collared shirt. So it wasn't like I was dressed in a tux or anything. But then again, I didn't show up in my lawn cuttin' clothes either... (See what I'm saying?) :o)

(Btw, Dusty, GREAT WORK on the new RM header!!)

Dusty McDust said...

(thanks, it's fun to do that sort of stuff... of course, that's what brought me over here--just checkin to see if it looked okay... then I get all discussy and arguey and rambly and stuff. I'm a doofus.)

(anyway, I think i'll fix the way it blends on the right, top and bottom a little; then it'll be poifect.)

Scott and Jenni said...

The reality is that people now dress down to go to church for the same reasons that some people dress up to go to church. I am with Rhett on this one, how you dress is a matter of Christian liberty. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God; not to be one of the "cool" kids at church (whether that be the well dressed cool kids or the cool kids in t-shirts and flip flops)

S. M. said...

Ever think what it is that causes you to dress as you do, wherever you are? Is it an attitude of me first, lack of bending to authority on any level, anything like that? Examine the reasons why you dress as you do, and don't cop out with "because it's comfortable." Dress reveals attitudes. Think about it. As to women, they wear to church the same immodest stuff they wear the rest of the time. At what point do we cross the line? No one seems to care. "Prevailing dress codes of the culture" -- show me that in the Bible please.