Mystery Worshipper: Aileen
Church: Luss Parish Church
Location: Luss, Argyll & Bute, Scotland
Date of visit: Sunday, 3 June 2012, 11:45am
There has been a church on this site since AD510, although the present Decorated Gothic style building dates from 1875 and underwent a major restoration programme in 2001. The roof is somewhat unique, resembling an overturned boat. In the graveyard are several ancient monuments. There is also an effigy of St Kessog, who brought Christianity to the area in 510. The pulpit is in the centre of the church and opposite is a special place for marriages and baptisms. There are three sides for people to sit, and there are many, many beautiful coloured windows. High above the pulpit is a window of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
They broadcast their Sunday service live on-line via the Luss village website. Many people come to Luss to be married, from all sorts of places, and are welcomed. There is some controversy, however, over brides who are married elsewhere and then come to Luss Parish Church to have their wedding photos taken. The church also sponsors a pilgrimage centre that attracts many tourists. The building was frequently depicted in the Scottish TV soap opera Take the High Road, which was said to be a favourite of the late Queen Mother.
Luss is a tiny village of 100 people that sits on the edge of Loch Lomond. There are beautiful mountains all around, and many visitors come to walk or go boating. The Olympic Torch was carried through Luss on 9 June, an event that attracted thousands of tourists.
The Revd Dane Sherrard, pastor.
What was the name of the service?Sunday Service
How full was the building?
The building was reasonably quite full, about 80 people at the service.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
As we came into the church door, a greeter smiled, said "Welcome!" and gave us the service paper.
Was your pew comfortable?
Our pew was a wooden pew with a woolen cover. Very nice and comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Most people arrived a little early and sat and chatted quietly. Most were adults, with just a few children.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning to all! You are always welcome."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The paper we were given had the hymns, the prayers, the Bible readings, and the order of service.
What musical instruments were played?
An organ led our hymns.
Did anything distract you?
The elders all wore tartan kilts and the minister wore tartan trousers. I really enjoyed seeing all these! At a wedding that took place later in the day, the minister wore a kilt.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
There were lots of hymns interspersed with Bible readings and meditations. Everyone sang the hymns well, and so did the organist, playing the tune so we all understood it before we sang. There was no communion service today.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Pastor Sherrard spoke very clearly.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"Three persons in one God" is a massive challenge to understand. The Hebrews worshipped one God, unlike others who worshipped all sorts and numbers of divinities. We see God in three wonderful ways, which are always present: the Creator of the world, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus was born not to condemn us, but to save us, we are spiritually born through baptism. We are lifted up to heaven just as Jesus was lifted up on the cross. The Holy Spirit spoke through Jesus. God's will is done here as it is in heaven. Have faith in Jesus; be lifted up to heaven like Jesus. Live God's way. The gift of God is in us, inspiring us.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I felt inspired by God's love and care for me, a feeling that the whole service confirmed.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The overturned boat appearance of the roof made me think of the people who, down through history, lost their lives on Loch Lomond and may even be buried here in the churchyard. That was a bit depressing.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Almost at once, members smiled and said they'd like us to come with them to the pastor's residence for tea, coffee and biscuits.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Lots of pleasant informal chat over tea, coffee, milk and plenty of biscuits in the minister's home.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – If I lived in or very near Luss, I would feel very happy to belong to this church.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
I felt very happy to belong to God as a Christian, and to keep remembering all about God, the Trinity.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The effigy of St Kessog and all of the other reminders of how old this Christian community really is.