The 10:30 service today lacked a sermon, or, more properly, had a sermon delivered in the form of a Benjamin Britten opera, albeit a quite short one. The work presented was Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac, Op. 51, for piano (Doug Starr), tenor (Rich Williams), and alto (Brian Brazon). The piece tells the story of God’s commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. The opera did not fit particularly well with the readings for Easter 4, but it did provide both entertainment—it was beautifully performed—and food for thought. (I have always found the story problematic and not suggestive of a loving God.) The Britten piece has a libretto adapted from a medieval text. That text has its peculiarities, referring as it does both to Jesus and the Trinity.
If you missed today’s performance (and even if you didn’t), you might want to listen to the program “Children of Abraham” from American Public Media. You can hear the program or, by clicking on the LISTEN link, you can hear the Britten work performed.
Doug Starr surprised me during communion by improvising on the Navy Hymn. It was not immediately clear to me why he chose to do this, but, after the service, Mike Plaskett pointed out that the flowers today were given in memory of Lillian Annette Burke, daughter of choir members Preston and Annette Shimer, a young naval officer who died as her new ship was being made seaworthy. That realization brought tears to my eyes.
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