The Church of the Nazarene describes itself as a "Wesleyan-Holiness" denomination. The denomination is the product of multiple mergers of smaller denominations that were part of the Methodist and Holiness movements.
Some positions and beliefs of the denomination include-
- Belief in the Trinity
- Use of the Protestant Bible
- An emphasis on grace, holiness, and Entire Sanctification/Christian Perfection
- Baptism by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling
- Communion with bread and grape juice
- Total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco
Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene
The ChurchI wasn't able to get a look at most of the building. The sanctuary/worship almost gave off a town hall vibe. The seats looked like auditorium or movie theater seats. In the front was a raised area with a projector screen and podium, and several seats facing the congregation (none of which were sat in when I was there).
The ServiceThe service began at 6pm with a hymn that was projected onto the screen. Only the piano was used, and it felt somehow out of place to sing such a traditional hymn in such a modern and secular looking place. I'm not sure if they always sing traditional hymns during the evening service or if it varies.
The church was maybe 10% full. The congregation has both a morning and evening service on Sunday, and I believe they are both different. so someone can go to both services if they choose. I would assume that the Sunday morning service usually has more people, as that is the service that has children's church running at the same time. It was also both Mother's Day and graduation weekend. In a small town that affects a good chunk of the congregation.
An offering was taken up for anyone who hadn't given in the morning, followed by another hymn. After that a mother came to the front with her three little girls to sing, "He's Still Working on Me." It was pretty adorable and definitely the highlight of the service.
The SermonThis was definitely one of the more...interesting sermons I've heard. The pastor went off on a lot of tangents and it was difficult to keep up with him. The main message seemed to be:
- The prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament are clearly fulfilled in Jesus. The Old Testament prophets didn't know exactly what the Messiah would be like or how the prophecies would be fulfilled, but we have the gift of hindsight.
- The New Testament writers could see how the Old Testament prophecies show Jesus to be the Messiah, but couldn't see how their own writings would reveal a bigger picture for future generations.
- We have the benefit of seeing how everything in the Bible fits together, but we don't know how exactly how or when the events concerning the 2nd Coming of Jesus will come to pass.
Now for a few of those tangents I mentioned-
- After mentioning a specific prophecy in the Old Testament and commenting on how Jesus clearly fulfilled them, he would mention how he just couldn't believe that people didn't believe that people didn't believe in and accept Jesus as the Christ when he so clearly was. This happened multiple times. Either he was playing this up for dramatic effect or he genuinely doesn't understand why people may have trouble believing Biblical narratives.
- He mentioned how bizarre it was that there were still Jewish people today who were waiting on the Messiah when it is clear that Jesus was the Messiah. He said these people were called "Messianic Jews." Couple of notes about that-
- Messianic Jews are actually Christians who do believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
- The New Testament uses quotes from the Old to prove that Jesus was fulfilling ancient prophecies. It can be easily argued that they are simply proof-texts. When looking at the sources of the quotes and their contexts, it's not always clear how they're supposed to refer to a future Messiah. So it's actually pretty easy to see why someone wouldn't just accept Jesus as the Messiah.
- The US embassy in Israel being moved to Jerusalem is Biblically significant...somehow. He mentioned how interesting (he started to say fun but corrected himself) it was that we could see the events predicted in here (pointing to the Bible) play out over there (the Middle East). No mention of the fact that people are dying, or anything that could be done to alleviate it. Just how interesting it is.
- After reminding people that people have been guessing at who the antichrist would be and have never been right, he gave the following examples he remembers hearing-
- Osama bin Ladin (who he also referred to as Osama bin Hidin' and Osama bin Swimmin'), because he was shot in the head and thrown into the ocean.
- Mikhail Gorbachev, because of his birthmark.
- Anwar Sadat for reasons I can't remember.
Add all of this to the fact that the congregation would verbally express their agreement with the things he was saying...it was just a very bizarre experience.
After the service I talked a bit with an elderly woman who noticed I was visiting. She let me pick a couple of visitor gifts out of a basket, which was very kind of her. Other than that and the kids singing, this wasn't a particularly positive experience. The sermon pretty much ruined it for me.