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Monday, July 14, 2014

Third summer

Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at 12:26 PM

You'd think I would want the summer months to be as stress free as possible with nothing added to my schedule. Think again! I need challenges and new activities. I usually thrive on being around people.

And while I do enjoy the occasional morning when I can sleep in (wishing for quite a few, actually), I am committed to doing something that requires me to get up around 5:30 a.m. and be dressed and fully cognizant by 8.

For the third summer in a row the pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and I will be leading what we call "Lawn Chair Worship." Beginning with the first Sunday in June we'll offer an 8 a.m. worship experience for the months of June and July. They are held at Bowman Park, the corner of Locust and Hanna streets, and chairs from that site are already available for our usage. We just like the title Lawn Chair Worship.

Paul Champion and I kept hearing from people that they "really wanted to be in worship" but had family commitments and travel plans for later on in the day. Morning worship usually attendance drops during the summer months. Three years ago we decided to try an additional or alternative service and it's been a lot of fun!

We sing, pray and then one of us will give the morning message. It would be tempting simply to read the sermon we'll be preaching later that morning. The challenge is in developing an entire new inspirational talk. Sometimes we'll lead in a devotion, sometimes in sharing a meditation, sometimes in giving a sermonette. At least once during each summer I've shared a message using nothing but pictures and visual images to let us think and process. At least once during each summer Paul has shared a message using the words of hymns and how they intertwine around common themes. Oh, and of course, we also take a collection for a local project; how could it be "church" without an offering?

Why in the world would people come to these 8 a.m. outdoor services? For starters, while the good Rev. Dr. Champion and I come in suit and tie, no one is required to wear their Sunday best and dress up. We've had some attend in jogging attire and then run away after the benediction. We've had others bring their dogs with them to these early morning services; those "best friends" are always loved and cared for by the attending crowd. Some people just aren't up to a 20-minute oral presentation during the summer months and love the different styles we use at the park. Others simply love being outdoors, hearing the birds sing along to our hymns, and enjoy the peaceful breeze that blesses us so early in the morning.

You don't have to be a member of either congregation or indeed of any church to attend Lawn Chair Worship. You just need to come and enjoy. Bring your coffee and your friendly heart. Whether just one or all nine, know that you are invited to join in the fun.

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Sunshine for the Soul
Rev. P.T. Wilson
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.
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