Sunday, June 26, 2011

Observations on the 10:30 Service, 6/26/2011

Neither Lou nor Kris was in church today, so the 10:30 service was the John and Mabel show. It was good to see John Thomas back in church after his recent operation. Mabel Fanguy gave a nice sermon on not being judgmental, which she based, somewhat surprisingly, on the story of God’s asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.

It was a good day for music. Bryan Sable played the prelude on the Clavinova—I was told the piano was out of tune—and played the postlude on the organ. Tenor Rich Williams sang “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people” from Handel’s Messiah at communion. The choir’s anthem was Doug Starr’s setting of former rector Bill Pickering’s “St. Paul’s Mission Prayer.” It’s too bad this prayer has fallen into disuse, as it touches all the important bases (I have taken some liberties with punctuation):
Almighty God, who has called us to be one body in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, send your Holy Spirit to encourage us to worship joyfully; teach the mighty acts of God; proclaim the news of Jesus; reach out with love and concern; and give our time, talent, and treasure to build the Kingdom of God; through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
We began and ended the service with stirring hymns: Luther’s “A mighty fortress is our God” as the processional and Henry Emerson Fosdick’s “God of grace and God of Glory” as the recessional. (Everyone knows about Martin Luther. Fosdick deserves more fame—see my post of his most famous sermon.) We sang two less familiar though lovely hymns, “Put forth, O God, thy Spirit’s might” (#521 in the hymnal) and “Lord Jesus, think on me” (#641 in the hymnal). The words of the latter are worth reproducing here:

Lord Jesus, think on me,
and purge away my sin;
from harmful passions set me free,
and make me pure within.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
with care and woe oppressed;
let me thy loving servant be,
and taste thy promised rest.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
nor let me go astray;
through darkness and perplexity
point thou the heavenly way.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
that, when the flood is passed,
I may the eternal brightness see,
and share thy joy at last.

I was delighted that we sang the first hymn (“A mighty fortress”) without anyone’s announcing that we were going to sing it. As best as I could tell, everyone stood on cue and sang the hymn without instruction other than what appeared in the bulletin. Likewise, we sang the presentation hymn sans announcement. The congregation is apparently smarter than it’s given credit for.

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