We will have a richly meaningful worship service this Sunday. It will include beautiful music and a comforting, reassuring message for hard times. We will reflect on the role that our congregation can play in our community and world as we prepare for our Annual Meeting after refreshments. And last but by far not least we will celebrate a wonderful official new member to our church who brings a warm, loving light and passionate intelligence and beautiful voice to our congregation among her many other gifts!
And yet the service will be grounded in the confession of Psalm 51 and the strange, miraculous and life-saving truth that the God our scriptures describe welcomes us with all our failings, weaknesses and mistakes. The gospel passage reminds us that Jesus gathered around him those who were outcasts, judged as unforgivable or revoltingly impure by his society. (Luke 15:1-10) The force of love and life and light that flows through the universe that created us is at work right now in humanity, welcoming us as we are and trying to help us evolve to a new consciousness to meet the crisis we have created as we have strayed from the sacred way.
The church has collective wisdom—all the faith traditions have seeded our culture with their wisdom—so there is good reason to hope, and to roll up our sleeves and work hard for the spiritual transformation that can bring cultural transformation, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
We will hear beautiful music inspired by that wisdom, including one of Wendell Berry’s Sabbath Poems set to music by the Amidons of southern Vermont, “Great Trees,” and the gospel favorite, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and Ken Medema’s “Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying,” all sung by the choir conducted by Annemieke McLane. (Please feel free to sing with the choir simply by showing up at 8:50 at the church on Sunday morning.)
The congregation will sing “Amazing Grace” and two hymns from the old Pilgrim Hymnal that show we have had the wisdom we need for a long time: “Thou Judge by Whom Each Empire Fell” and “Turn Back, O Man.” Annemieke will play gorgeous piano pieces by Handel, Schumann and Liszt.
You can watch a performance of “Turn Back, O Man” from Oxford, England in this YouTube recording: