Cruising From Comedy To Worship

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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Listen while you read: "Ivory Palaces"1 (Lyrics)

James 5:13 – Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. (KJV)

Psalm 19:7 – The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (KJV)

The cruise director on a recent cruise doubled, or should I say tripled, as a comedian at night and conducted the non-denominational service on Sunday.

It was a smaller cruise line; the number of staff and passengers totalled almost 2,000. Of those, eleven of us, not even one per cent, attended the Sunday service in the vast theatre that we'd noticed in passing on several evenings had been packed to the rafters. I don't know how many may have attended the Jewish service on Friday night or the Roman Catholic mass earlier that Sunday morning.

We had not attended the comedy nights, but we'd had a taste of the director's humour on a couple of mornings while waiting to disembark for our on-shore excursions. And so, admittedly, I was intrigued as to how he'd conduct a worship service. I have to say that he did not disappoint.

Smiling, with the hint of full-on laughter in the twinkle of his eyes, he opened by telling the story of how religion hadn't been an equation in his life until the impending birth of his daughter. It was then that he'd had his aha moment, found a home church, and has been happy to share God's Word now for several years.

Knowing that music speaks to everyone, and not knowing to what denomination, if at all, any of us belonged, he chose two hymns that pretty much reach across most denominations: Amazing grace and How great Thou art. It was amazing the grace and greatness with which our small number sang. For his sermon, he read and expounded upon some of his favourite quotations of things small kids say about church which he'd received off the Internet some time before. We joined in a responsive reading and prayers, then prayed the Lord's Prayer together.

It was a feel-good sermon and service served up by a cruise-directing comedian whom I believe the Lord led to show his serious side by way of sharing His Word. The service offered the nowness of today with the familiarity and comfort of the hymns and prayers of the past.

Church attendance is down in the traditional denominations, even as they strive to meet the changing needs of today and the future, while still meeting the needs of those adhering to the comforts of the past. Churches are facing the reality that non-attenders have not necessarily pushed God out of their lives; there are numerous reasons why people choose not to attend church on a regular basis or not to be connected to one particular church or denomination.

God speaks to and reaches us in various ways, whether it be to spread His Word from the pulpit in church on a Sunday morning, through the many means of the media, by simply sharing with each other, or through something as unique as attending a service conducted by a cruise director comedian whose love of the Lord leads him also to feel called to share His Word. May we always be open to the ways in which we can hear what God has to say and respond to His call on our lives.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the many ways in which You lead us to hear and share Your Word. Through You, we pray and give our thanks each day. Amen.

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Mary Daniel <>
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Good reminder Mary.

    And…amen! Times are indeed changing.

    Mary, I’ve often wondered how cruise ships handle Sunday services, if at all. Thanks for enlightening us. Blessings.

    Mary, How good to read your devotional today. It’s been awhile but I thoroughly enjoyed your devotional today and hope to see many more in the future.

    Hello Mary,
    It was a treat to see that you haven’t fallen off the radar, and to read your devotional today. You can count me as one of your “fan club”. Keep up the good work!

    Good afternoon Mary,
    What a delightful devotion you’ve shared with us today. It is heart-warming when we happen on an opportunity to experience of the unchanging power of the Word shared lovingly through simple and relevant circumstances of daily life. How wonderful that a handful of you ‘travellers’ chose to honour God amid your vacation time. What a blessing you folks must have been to the cruise director who lovingly prepared a service that would satisfy traditional and modern day perspectives. God is good. Thanks for reminding us that it is the Word, not the venue that matters.

    Good day Mary,
    It’s a blessing to read an inspiring sermon every morning and I can relate to what you are saying. Even in Trinidad where I live there is a decline in the Presbyterian Churches which is really sad.
    But having people like you who continues to inspire us it’s a great blessing.
    Everything takes time in life and I know that our churches will full back up because I believe God has a plan. He always does.
    May God continue to guide you and looking forward to your continuous inspirational devotion.
    God Bless

    Thanks Mary for your thoughts.
    The declining attendance is a result of God not being important in the lives of people. Too much is going on that is more exciting for people who do not love God. If God be God then serve Him…not just drop in on a service when one feels like it. That is why the rejection sentence to people wanting to go into Glory is. “I never knew you,” That is the enormous and costly price the millions of people who say they believe in God but never attend a service will pay. But Sunday has become Run day, day for sports..”because we work hard enough during the week”. Our forefathers worked just as hard. Millions never even give God a thought Alas!
    Oh I could go on but I’d be saying what you know. But, the price is eternal absence from God…imagine that! WE must however pray for the lost…the least but the best we can do.

    Hi Mary
    Seems the trend of the times. Aboard a ship or in church on land.
    Cruise wise have been there and witnessed the same thing! If they have anyone at all to help with a service?
    Or they change the day or the time—you really have to alert yourself to reading the events for the day and to find the room.
    But I must say anytime we have been aboard ship we were blessed to have someone to give a testimony or a short talk with music as you said “Amazing Grace” is popular as most in attendance know the words (all ten or 15 out of 4000 passengers). Yes a little larger ship but fewer in attendance per capita.
    And yet I have met some lovely Christian people on board even to meeting in our cabin with missionaries headed to South America to spread God’s Word.
    But Mary it is as you have said how the least of people seem come out of the woodwork to tell the story’s of Jesus.

    Good morning,
    I appreciate what you have said about hearing God in different ways. Too often we think that hearing God only occurs in a certain place or time, and it is good to be reminded that we can talk to God or listen to God anywhere, anytime.
    However, when you talk about church attendance, I wonder what you mean by “adhering to the comforts of the past” in referring to more traditional church services? Listening to a sermon that makes me uncomfortable is not necessarily something to be avoided. Nor is reciting the Apostle’s Creed or Lord’s Prayer together something to be avoided. These may not be at all “comfortable” especially when we stand in the Lord’s presence and realize how sinful and me-centered we have become, expecting to receive something entertaining rather than give my worship during church services.
    The numerous reasons why people do not attend church (any church, including traditional) are not usually Godly reasons. In Hebrews 10:24 & 25 we are called to persevere in our faith, and not give up meeting together:
    24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    Thanks, Mary. We have frequent opportunities to ask God to help us spread His word, but even there we fail Him. It is our responsibility to spread His word, He told us so. Where are we when the chance occurs? Thanks to those who constantly work to make Him known, and thanks be to God for sticking with us even when we fail Him.

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