Christian Protestant Worship Services

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On general Protestant* worship services
I’ve been around the block a few times so I am aware of, have attended, and have even led several styles of Christian worship-ritualistic services. The services generally have been derived from two basic groups, free-thinking and authoritarian. The free-thinking are at liberty to put on whatever type they chose and are flexible. The authoritarian are usually pre-set at the behest of some given authority and generally will be the same from place to place although some minor alterations may be allowed. The latter class can be and traditionally have been referred to as liturgical because they follow a set program of liturgy containing a set pattern of leader-community response order of worship. The free-thinking class has been customarily referred to as non-liturgical because changes occur frequently in the order of service but are in fact liturgical in the normal sense of the word. A more exhaustive analysis can be made but you get the idea.

Here is a list of general types of worship services knowing that there are mixtures:
1. High Church, strict liturgy. It is the same basic format on any given Sunday in any area of the particular church where it is an institutionalized. It will normally contain a brief sermon pre-published by the church institution by which the priest or pastor uses as the standard for the week. The scripture has been pre-selected with some commentary and the priest or pastor may add some remarks, anecdotes, etc. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ accompaniment, with choir.
2. General liturgical. The same as #1, with the pre-set scriptures as per a particular denomination or sect or as used by a number of churches. The sermon may or may not follow the scripture text but will be more or less a topical sermon depending on a pre-set theme of the week of the season. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ and/or a piano as accompaniment, maybe an extra instrument and a choir.
3. Independent liturgical. A set order of worship, the same each Sunday but the pastor chooses his own selection of scripture and sermon topic. Traditional hymn with perhaps a more modern non-tradition song, an organ and/or piano and maybe a small orchestra.
4. Modern, non-traditional service with no printed order or worship. However it is usually the same every week as to the order beginning with praise songs and modern Christian songs with a traditional hymn or two with a piano and/or an orchestra or praise band. All music is non-traditional with a small contingent of voices without choir robes. You will not see many suits and ties if at all. It is very casual and members are free to move about, may check their cell phone messages, shoot pix or videos and even carry own individual conversations.
5. Strictly non-traditional. These are the Pentecostalists and free non-Pentecostalists but with an highly emotional tone, referred to by some as holy-rollers. No set responsorials but congregation members can respond as they see fit at any time with shouts of amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord and sometimes dancing about. The preacher will preach his sermon with fervor, There may be some traditional hymns but mostly choruses and modern praise type songs. The services will be the same each week however as the congregation will be in worship mode as usual. An extended invitational period and/or altar call will end the service, sometimes with the laying on of hands and praying with individuals by the elders. Some churches will have a period of anointing with oil for the healing of the sick and the repentance of the broken hearted. Sometimes the term, revival, is used as the members are revived each week with renewed spiritual energy.
6. Military, hospital, prison, and other institutional services may include one or more of the above depending on the chaplain(s) employed to lead the services. In most cases they are shorter and more subdued depending on the institution.
7. Services for INFPs. The service I fit in and prefer. I’ll let you known when I find one.

(*non-Roman Catholic, Greek & Eastern Orthodox, etc)

© 2018. Chaplain Bob Haines

In Memoriam, Rodney

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50 years ago on 5 Feb 1970, upon my return from Vietnam after serving 7 years, 3 months, and 10 days in the Air Force, I was discharged from the service. I took 3 months to relax and readjust before beginning my college career at Lake-Sumter Community College. The first day, my first class, I was sitting in English 101 being blown away by our instructor, Mr. James Rennie, a fine Scotsman and a great American. In that class was a man who also had recently returned from Vietnam and one who would become my lifelong friend and confidant over the next 50 years. Right off from the start we were able to share together our thoughts, ideas, any questions – anything that crossed our minds we were able to share. We’ve disagreed on many things in politics and religion, and other areas of life, but we agreed on more and had that human relationship that expands politics, religion, and culture in general.

Last Saturday I wrote in my weekly news article, The Chaplain’s Tent, an ode, or tribute to my friend Rodney as published on my Chaplain’s Tent Facebook page and in the Leesburg Daily Commercial – my thoughts as I thought of Rodney’s passing as follows:

“Upon the death of the 17th century French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, some friends found papers he had written in a pile and subsequently had them published under the title, Pensees, which is translated, “Thoughts”.
Many, many thoughts came into my mind since serving in the barren desert of Northern Saudi Arabia and camped outside Kuwait City following its liberation. Over the years since I continue to think about many things – things like, who am I, why am I here, and where am I going? What should I be doing with my time? Can I influence others, should I, and if so, how?
In reviewing a few thoughts of the past with the view of thinking through them again, I continue to think, what is my life all about? That is a question that readily comes to mind when one is prepared to go into combat. For me, as a chaplain, I cling to an old favorite spiritual I learned as a youngster: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain.” It is not only who I am that counts, but what I do. It is not so much our status in life that is really important, but what we do in our life that has lasting value.
Life is short. The Old Testament says that life is like a flower which blossoms but soon withers and dies. It also refers to life as like the morning dew which very soon goes away. Use your time wisely. What will you do with your time left?
Someone once said, “One never learns to really live until one faces the fact of one’s own death.” I don’t mean to sound grotesque or to dampen anyone’s joy of life. But, I want to encourage you to think about your future in terms of the reality of death.
I have lost three good friends this past year. Last week I lost one of closest friends of the past 50 years. I encourage you to live life in all it’s fullness, each day as if your last. Resolve to use it to its fullest. Make up your mind that you can do anything you set out to do if you use time wisely.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” By the grace of God, I am what I am and do what I do!” You are what you do. It is what you do for others that really counts. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is an action verb. How do you love?”

At the end of the 1998 movie, Saving Private Ryan, Pvt. Ryan, now older with a family, went to Normandy to the American cemetery to visit the grave of Captain Miller, his company officer after the invasion and as the American Army moved through France toward Germany. As he was kneeling, then standing up in front of Miller’s grave, his wife approached. He turned to her and said, “tell me I’ve lived a good life.” “What?” she responded. He repeated, “tell me I’ve lived a good life. Five men had died in order to bring Ryan back home safely and he wondered, was it worth it? Though he could never repay them for their sacrifices, he wanted to be reassured that he had lived a good life.

Jesus died for Rodney and he came home from Vietnam and lived a good life. How do I know? Because, regardless of his personality, his character and demeanor, and his experiences, He loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind, and He served others. Like all of us he was not perfect. But he knew Jesus and followed Jesus, and friends, that’s all that counts.

Take a lesson from dear ole’ Bob and his friend Rodney, love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.


© Copyright 2020
Robert A. Haines, Chaplain Haines



The Chaplain’s Tent

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please like and share my new page. thanks.

Let the Confusion Begin

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     About 10 years ago I wrote a scathing letter to the Orlando Sentinel about the differences between Veterans Day and Memorial Day as it was being confused by the various ceremonies even those done by service-connected groups. I used to cringe at our local American Legend services. I entitled the letter, Don’t Play Taps on Veterans Day. I sent the letter next year to other papers and added it to my blog and have been re-posting annually on each day. Then, the last few years I have noticed it has been picked up on by comments during the services, in editorials, in social media and the news broadcasts. It’s still often confused, but making headway, I think.
     In the last 2 years i’ve added Armed Forces Day to my rants because it is not celebrated widely, mainly at military installations. Maybe this year it will get more visibility and coverage on social media at least.
     BELOW is the blog I published on May 23, 2008, it was an edited version of my earlier original letter to the editor. Some changes have been made on this update.
     How will you celebrate Memorial Day? Like many Americans, you are likely to have a day off from work. You might go to the beach, party on your boat or have a cookout in your backyard with friends. All this is certainly appropriate. However, if you want to honor the day for what it is meant to be, you will attend a Memorial Day service hosted by your local military veterans’ organization to venerate the memory of the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service of our country and the freedom you enjoy.
Because you can google it and investigate further, I will not go into the history of Memorial Day, as there is ample information on the Internet, and you can research it yourself. Suffice it to say that the day is set aside to honor and commemorate all armed forces members who paid the ultimate sacrifice, i.e. those who died in our nation’s service in order to keep our country free.
     It irks me that people don’t pay attention to the reason for Memorial Day. For example, one automobile dealership is honoring active and retired military by giving them a $4.95 oil and filter change during what they call Memorial Day week. First, there is no Memorial Day “week,” only Memorial Day. Second, it is not to honor active and retired military persons, but to pay homage to the deceased military members who died on the field of battle, and in the air and on the seas.
     There are two other days set aside each year to honor those in service of their country, Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day. I have attended regularly these affairs and continue to be confounded by the misunderstandings of the public at large and some military service (veteran) organizations concerning the purpose of the events.
      One example recently was a motorcycle group attempting to celebrate Armed Forces Day with a ride to honor veterans, including a ride to a national cemetery and the playing of Taps. Armed Forces Day is set aside the third Saturday of May each year to recognize, venerate and honor our current military forces, i.e. to honor the men and women serving our country in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, at home and around the world. It is not to celebrate veterans or memorialize the deceased. (By the way, there are few events that celebrate Armed Forces Day anymore, and, in fact, it is not even listed on many calendars.)
     Another interesting example is a Veterans Day observance last year by a local group that publicized it as a memorial service. Obviously, they got it confused with Memorial Day. Veterans Day is a day set aside in November to honor all living veterans of the military services. This event is not a day to memorialize the deceased by a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps, because living veterans did not give their lives, only their service, be it in war or peace time.
     So, as you celebrate Memorial Day and, in November, Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day, remember the reason for each day. And if you belong to an organization that plans an event to celebrate these special days, please organize it with the proper purpose, and plan accordingly.

© Copyright May 2017
Robert A. Haines, Chaplain Haines


Go and Sin No More

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There is a meme, in several different forms going around social media that reads, “Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you.” Most of the time, it stands alone with simple borders around it, sometimes appears to be a photoshopped church sign, or another image seeking to pitch for a certain audience. I have seen the saying in quotes on two occasions, one attributed to a well-known Christian T.V. personality, the other to a Islamic imam.   I thought that was interesting, but know full well, the creator of those two memes had a particular audience in mind.  Needless to say, it is anonymous, original author unknown.
I’ve seen the meme posted from various web sites and Facebook pages. I do not know where it originated nor do I know the reason why any particular person, group, or organization would post it on their timelines. I do have my suspicion when it is posted by a friend I know, or think I know well, or see its sponsored page from which it was posted.

Now then, the posting of the meme naturally leads me to its subject, to wit, SIN. Next it leads me to the question, “what does my friend, or friend of a friend, believe sin to be?
What exactly do they mean by the word, sin?  That is, what is their definition of sin? Is sin subjective, i.e.. is sin what they, themselves think it is? Or, is there some standard for what sin is? Furthermore, do they think they are sinning in a particular way and are they looking for an excuse to continue to sin? Hey, others sin, so I have an excuse, so don’t judge me for my sin and I won’t judge your for yours. In other words, maybe they are looking for a way not to be judged for their sin at all.

For some people, namely those who grew up in a fundamentalist religious environment but have opted out for a more liberal, live and let live, religious persuasion, maybe they are saying, “it’s okay to sin because everyone does it and if I don’t harm anyone else then it’s okay.” Well, at least they, by using the word, sin, they are recognizing that what they are doing is wrong? All this leads to the opposite of a subjective idea of sin, namely, is there a standard for sin, i.e. a moral code or some statement that defines it. Furthermore, is there a list of sins and even more so, is there a degree of sin by which some are okay and some are unpardonable?  Perhaps sin is, as noted by some Christian theology,  not specific acts, but a way of life, a way of life that separates one from God and, once atoned for sin (not sins), one is forgiven, may do specific sins in the future, but the way of sin, itself, has been forgiven.

As a person who has an academic background in classic philosophy, world religions, and Christian theology, I am aware of many answers to the questions posed above and aware of the many published treatises and commentaries concerning the subject of sin. I am not aware of the current sociological stances concerning (so-called) enlightened Baby Boomers or Millennials in general although, again, I have my suspicions of where they are coming from.

As a proponent of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the traditional four gospels of the New Testament, one specific vignette comes to mind. The recording of the event is found in John 8:2-11 (NIV translation/paraphrase)

At dawn He (Jesus) appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
          But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
          At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. Go now and leave your life of sin (lit. go and sin no more).”

You can interpret this passage from scripture however you chose. As for me, the first thing I will note is that this is not an inclusive teaching on sin, the consequences of sin, nor to the fact that everyone sins, how to be forgiven or redeemed for sin, and whether or not one is able to be sinless. However it is important to point out that, although Jesus did not condemn this woman, ala the law of Moses, and the standard of punishment for adultery at the time, He did recognize her action, i.e. her way of life, at the time as wrong, and told her in no uncertain way not to do it again, or in other words, “get a life sister.”

Thus, the lesson of this story might be that if you are living a particular way of life that is considered wrong, in this case by Biblical standards, then it’s best to leave it. There’s no excuse that just because others do it, whether condemned by a religious community, or allowed by the civil community, just don’t do it no more because it is sin.*


*Sin, or a way of life considered to be sin, perhaps addictive, and depending on the severity of the sin, although forgiven by God when confessed on a religious basis, may be rooted in the psyche for which some degree of psycho-therapy is needed for the cure.

© Copyright May 2016
Robert A. Haines, Chaplain Haines

young, naive, and missed opportunity

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i am, slowly, over time, reading the enthralling book, Devil in the Grove, by Gilbert King.


while reading, i keep thinking back to the time in the mid-1980s when i was a young Navy chaplain serving at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.  as i was making my rounds to various wards one day,  i discovered that Thurgood Marshall was an incognito patient on one of the sections that i covered. we often got famous patients connected with the Washington DC crowd in the hospital and i met several during my tenure.


excited, i went to visit Mr. Marshall and entered the room where he was in bed and his wife in a chair next to him. we struck up a conversation and both he and wife told me fascinating stories, mostly centered around chaplains or ministers, religion, and so on.  as in  most cases, the chaplains let the patient lead the conversation and they listen. needless to say, i was impressed.

before leaving the room, i offered to serve them communion of which he politely refused saying he only took communion (if i recall correctly) at certain times.

well, here’s the point: over the past several years as i’ve continued to learn, mature, and reflect on life, i am amazed at how naive i was back then. first of all i knew nothing of the man nor his history and real significance to American life and culture. had i known then what (i think) i know now, i would have engaged him and his wife with much more of meaningful conversation. it’s one of those cases when i really wish i could revisit the past and atone for my mistakes and stupidity.