Worship service brings together five denominations


CHARLESTON  “Lent is about God’s presence in your life and mine. Reassuring us that (in hardship) death does not defeat life,” said the Rev. Dr. Edward L. Counts, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, in addressing the congregation at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Five denominations shared a common faith in an ecumenical Lenten worship service at the cathedral on March 17.

Five churches in downtown Charleston  St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, First Baptist Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church, First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist  participated by hosting a service during the Wednesdays of Lent. Many people shared fellowship and food at the lunches following the services.

Msgr. Chester Moczydlowski, pastor of the Cathedral, presided. Two weeks ago on March 3, Msgr. Moczydlowski offered the sermon at the First Baptist Church on Church Street.

But on this day, Rev. Counts asked: “Where is God when I need him?” Lent, he said, is a good time to ask this question. He explained that during hardship  when we need him most  is when we most searchingly ask this question. During the healing time of Lent, this question often reappears.

“How good it feels to be here to share our traditions. We are really one,” Rev. Counts said. “Maybe we should worship together more frequently.”

He likened church-going only on major holidays to a pogo stick  hopping from Christmas Day to Easter Sunday. In doing this, he said, we miss the point  the “in between” is just as important as Christmas or Easter.

Where is God when I need him? This question holds a simple answer that is revealed to us throughout the year, each step of the way: “God is right there in front of everyone.”

In the Gospel according to Matthew, read earlier in the service by the Rev. Al Zadig Jr., assistant to the rector at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, the people taunted Jesus on the cross, not believing he was the son the God. They said, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him.” They did not believe God was there. Jesus cried out from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Rev. Counts said that even though they did not realize his presence, God was there. “Because God was there, you and I can be assured God is here.”

He referred to the inspirational poem “Footprints” as a good reflection for today. In the poem when only one set of footprints appears in the sand, the narrator asks God why he left him in his time of need. To which God replied that he did not leave him but carried him in the most difficult times.

“There was only one set of footprints leading to the cross,” said Rev. Counts. “God himself was in Jesus Christ. He carries us also.

“In the midst of our hopes, even when they become despair, in the midst of our dreams, even when they become nightmares, God is with us,” he said. “God is and will be with us, as it shall forever be.”