Blog of Pastor Rick Backus - Senior Pastor of the South Granville Congregational church
As I sit here on my Viking longboat (no, I’m not out pillaging and burning villages!) after spending the past week and a half in Northern France I was reflecting on the beautiful churches that I toured along the Seine River. The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, Saint Chappel (also in Paris), Notre Dame in Vernon, Église Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny (in Giverny), Notre Dame in Rouen (there were A LOT of Notre Dame’s! Which means “Our Lady”), Joan of Arc Church in Rouen, and Saint Savior in Les Andelys. I also saw a few others up close (but only on the outside). They all were massive Gothic Cathedrals, except for the church in Giverny - which was still quite large and Joan of Arc Church which was very modern.
As I sat in these massive Gothic Cathedrals I was in awe of their age, the art involved and how they represented (although not even coming close) the magnitude of our God. So much history and tradition at each one. The stained-glass windows, the paintings, the statutes, the pipe organs. And then there was Joan of Arc Church in Rouen which is next to the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. That church was large but very modern – even for the time it was built in 1979, yet it also had a mix of history and tradition. The stained-glass windows were almost 800 years old and from another cathedral (St. Josephs) which was all but demolished – yet these windows survived. Originally this idea wasn’t well received by the French people – mix 800-year-old stained glass windows with a modern structure? That’s absurd! You can’t mix 800-year-old stained glass windows with a modern structure! They belong in a cathedral! Yet the architect did and now in 2017 the French say nothing of it – because they were wrong. It’s an incredibly beautiful building and it certainly honors both history and tradition and the future – by honoring God.
And now, the day before I head back to the United States, to my new flock at the South Granville Congregational Church – which has a historic building and much tradition. I will eventually be mixing modernity in with tradition. The nine AM service will continue to maintain the history and tradition of the church with hymns, pipe organ and liturgy. The new eleven AM service, which will likely launch in the Spring of 2018 (although that is not set in stone – no pun intended!), although in a historic building will feature modern worship music, instruments and a different flow all together. As I tackle that – I think it was no coincidence that God reminded me to always honor history and tradition and to make sure that when it comes to the modern worship service – I just need to make sure it honors Him – and that’s what I intend to do!