Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another Ocean Grove poem...

  Charming tent houses, Ocean Grove, NJ


9 a.m. Sunday—

Contemporary worship. Boardwalk Pavilion, Ocean Grove

This is where we worship with snare drums and guitars

funky drama and spontaneous praise dance on the boards

facing sand and spray and rising sun

This is where we lift our hands and shout "Hallelujah!"

louder than the rousing rhythmic praise

of the waves crashing in our midst

This is where families come in tees and tank tops

cut-off denim, wrinkly cotton shorts

bare feet, sneakers, flip-flops

It's where we fan ourselves with song-sheets

chug from Poland Spring bottles

and flip through the pages of our Bibles

It's where we greet strangers, unabashedly

with "Praise the Lord!" and hugs and exit

faces shining with Moses-glow

10:30 a.m. Sunday—

Classic worship. Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove

I walk briskly from the Boardwalk Pavilion

(with my Moses-glow) to the old Methodist edifice

with its prominent Cross facing the Atlantic

This is where thousands gather

facing a purpose spelled out in lights:

Holiness to the Lord—So be ye holy

This is where worshippers arrive in crisp pressed cotton

and wrinkle-free polyester, strap sandals, pumps and pearls

where we rise and sing on key, hymns by Wesley and Crosby

where we utter printed responses by rote and in unison

Here, to the accompaniment of a historic pipe organ

we hear a traditional choir sing traditional hymns

and accomplished tenors and sopranos

and some of the greatest preachers on earth

do magnificently what they have been magnificently trained to do

This is where we pray quietly, reverently, solemnly

hands folded in our laps, as 100 silver-haired ushers

process prominently with collection baskets

wearing white slacks, dark jackets and red ties

with white carnations pinned to their lapels

This is where Gordon Turk, the organist

presents a resounding recessional

as we nod at one other warmly

and walk out edified into a balmy afternoon

Maude Carolan Pych


  1. Maude, your recent poems comparing traditional and contemporary worship are spot on with my experience of maturing in faith. As time goes on, I find myself more appreciative of the reserved type of church service I shunned as a younger woman. In a more quiet form, I do still hold all of that enthusiasm for God in my heart.

  2. Dear Susi,

    Thanks for commenting. Whether our worship is reserved or rousing, what's important is loving Him in our heart. Have a blessed day!