PLEASE NOTE: This is the new date for this workshop after it was postponed in January due to a snowstorm.
Carl Recchia and Jody Albright will lead this singing workshop which is open to all levels of experience, free of charge. They will teach some songs ‘by ear’ honoring the oral tradition of African American singing and will also teach some written arrangements. You don’t have to know how to read music; they will help you learn these simple melodies. Jody recently attended a ‘Circlesinging’ workshop led by Bobby McFerrin and has been leading Circlesongs in her community. Our hope is to provide some joyful ways to sing together as a community! Workshop: Saturday afternoon, February 16th from 3:30-5:00 PM ; then sing with Carl and Jody on Sunday morning February 17th with choir rehearsal at 8:50 AM and worship at 10:00.
A little note from Annemieke: When I ‘came off the boat,’ no green card yet etc. I was however free to seek music! One thing I did not have in my music education in Holland was gospel singing—to me, ‘the’ American thing to know more about. So, meeting at the Flynn in Burlington, these wonderful people, Carl Recchia, a soulful pianist I deeply admire and Jody Albright, a singer with a beautiful voice and warm heart. They took care of my being in a sense. I heard myself sing songs I would never sing overseas. With their knowledge, care, sensitivity, creativity, love for human beings. Gracefully they accepted the invitation to come to Strafford and share their AMAZING talents and passion with us. Please, come and be part of an unforgettable experience. It is free!!!! (Donations to Mannheim Fund welcome!)
Jody Albright is a jazz/blues vocalist and voice instructor who has been performing and teaching since the late 1980’s. One of the reasons she is drawn to these two art forms is because improvisation is at the heart of both. Jody recently had the opportunity to attend a Circlesinging workshop at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY led by Bobby McFerrin. She has also studied with Ysaye Barnwell (of Sweet Honey in the Rock) who leads workshops called “Building a Vocal Community”. Recently Jody has been leading Circlesinging in her town of Hinesburg and she is excited to share songs and improvisation with the community of Strafford.
Carl Recchia is in his 41st year teaching high school choral music, the past 30 at Champlain Valley Union HS in Hinesburg. He has also taught and directed musicians of all ages, and his singers regularly perform throughout the community, especially for seniors. He was the director of music for the Charlotte Congregational Church for 6 years, and he lives in Charlotte with his bride, Mary, and son, Benjamin.
Please plan to attend and help spread the word about this celebration of Bill’s life, work and words. We will be keeping his legacy here alive and reflecting on how we are doing at fulfilling the prophetic role he modeled and called the church to embody. Here is the schedule so far.
Friday, March 22nd
(Bill would have loved this concert, and he performed as pianist in similar concerts in this sanctuary, so while this is not directly affiliated with him it is a very fitting way to begin our celebration.)
Saturday, March 23rd
The Rev. Jim Antal is a denominational leader, climate activist, author and public theologian. He serves as Special Advisor on Climate Justice to the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Antal’s book, CLIMATE CHURCH, CLIMATE WORLD, was featured on Earth Day 2018 in the Chicago Tribune. From 2006-2018, Antal led the 350 UCC churches in Massachusetts as their Conference Minister and President. In 2017, Yale Divinity School honored him with the William Sloane Coffin Award for Peace and Justice. Before leading the UCC in Massachusetts, for 20 years Antal was a local UCC pastor in Shaker Heights, Ohio and Newton, Massachusetts. In the mid-80s he served as Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (USA), an interfaith pacifist organization.
Including the showing of the documentary film American Prophet and possibly other interviews as well.
Sunday, March 24th
Featuring a filmed or audio sermon by Bill, some of his favorite hymns, anthems and piano pieces
The Gospel Singing Workshop has been postponed, but…
we urge adventurous Vermonters to brave the snow storm—a fitting symbol for how the Civil Rights Movement braved the storm of segregationists and white supremacists and gradualists. Come sing American Civil Rights and South African Freedom songs and hear the inspiring words of Martin Luther King Jr. to help you meet whatever resistance may challenge your light!
We will reflect more on the ancient Christian path that leads from zero to oneness, from self-emptying to a transformed life of the greatest meaning, joy and love (see the sermons from December 23rd and January 13th).
Last week we talked about the Greek terms kenosis (self-emptying) and metanoia (transforming our heart, mind and spirit beyond where they are now toward being ever more Christ-like). This week we will add a third Greek term that is in a direct line with those two on the spiritual path: agape (Christ-like or God-like love that is generous-hearted, universal, that sees and loves all creation as one). On the traditional, saint-trod spiritual path, kenosis and metanoia lead to agape.
Martin Luther King Jr. is not only a model of this, but also a teacher—he wrote an extremely important essay entitled “An Experiment in Love” about how this path leads to individual and community transformation. He wrote eloquently about the power and purpose of agape. We will hear him teach us and call us, and then we will ask what we can do now in the crises of our day to fulfill that calling. (Racism in Vermont has been in the headlines this week, along with many other issues that need the active assertion of the ethic of love.)
At the end of the worship service we will hear King’s voice preaching the ending of his last sermon. Then we will sing “We Shall Overcome” and process to the Parish Hall where we will have a meeting to which all are invited. The meeting is the second this month on Fulfilling Our Vision, specifically where our new Future Directions vision says “We intend to be a force, not merely a presence, effecting positive social change for peace, justice and the care of God’s creation.”
During the service we will read passages from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (“An Experiment in Love,” “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and other writings) and from the Bible (from Isaiah 49, I John 3 and 4, and Luke 4). We will sing “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” “I Woke Up This Morning,” and “Once to Every Heart and Nation,” as well as “We Shall Overcome.” The choir will sing “Siyahamba (We Are Marching in the Light of God)” and “Thuma Mina (Send Me, Lord).”
The Baptism of Christ has traditionally been one of the big Sundays of the year, and for good reason. It marks the first recognition of the adult Jesus as Spirit-filled and particularly beloved of God. It blesses him as the heir to John the Baptist’s movement, and next in line as Public Enemy #1 of the oppressive kingdom that God’s kingdom threatens to overturn. The Jordan baptism gives us a symbol of what the way of Christ asks of us—the ritual death followed by resurrection, the humbling, loving, self-emptying followed by being filled with the Spirit’s higher power. (Next week we will hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talk about the oneness that comes through that Spirit.)
The oldest terms describing this path that the Baptism of Jesus symbolizes are the Greek, “kenosis-metanoia.” The newest terms are “zero-one.” Kenosis empties and shrinks our old selfish self toward zero, and metanoia expands our true self toward being one with God and neighbor and all creation.
This path that Jesus taught and modeled is what enables us to “get rid of the selfishness, greed and self-preoccupation that…are ingrained in our thoughts and behavior but are also the source of so much of our pain,” theologian Karen Armstrong says. The path has always been at the heart of mystical or contemplative Christianity, and every true saint of every church in every age has exemplified it, but it has rarely, if ever, been the way of an entire society. As G. K. Chesterton said, “It is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Last Sunday we asked ourselves what it would look like if our society followed the Golden Rule or love of neighbor in relation to problems like climate change or racism or poverty. We realized that two of the biggest obstacles to the Golden Rule in our personal lives as well as in our society are selfishness and fear.
We have gotten away with the selfishness of the “me generations,” or we thought we were getting away with it, but now we see that we were only delaying payment of an enormous price. The crisis we are now in threatens human civilization and the survival of most living species including our own. This generation can no longer afford to be a me-generation. We need to be Generation Zero-One, we need to be the last of the old way and first of the new, or else there will be no new.
The good news is that Jesus assures us that his path leads to the most abundant and joyful life possible, so the Baptism of Christ with all its symbolic meaning is a cause for celebration, even as Jesus turns from the Jordan toward the wilderness of trial and temptation and confrontation with society and the cross. We would not have a church today if it were not true that the love and comfort, the enthusiasm and miracles that come from the Spirit-filled life far outweigh life’s inevitable struggle and loss.
We will read Psalm 29 about the power of God in a thunderstorm and hear Isaiah 43:1-2, Acts 8:14-17 and Luke 3:15-16, 21-22. We will sing “O Worship the King, All Glorious Above,” “O Spirit, Help Me Open Wide” and “Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on Me.” The choir will sing “Lo, I Am with You,” a “Sanctus/Hosanna” and Larry Shackley’s anthem inspired by Martin Luther, “Here I Stand.” Pianist Annemieke McLane will play beautiful, uplifting pieces by F. Couperin and J.S. Bach.
What Child Is This Now?
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
United Church of Strafford, Vermont
Januray 6, 2019 Epiphany
Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12; 7:7-14
The force of love and life and light that we call God created the universe, shaped the earth, brought lifeless elements together and miraculously sparked them into living beings. Single cell organisms evolved ever more complexity. Eyes or wings or shells evolved in response to sensed cellular need—miracles worked by the creative intelligence of that force of light within all things.
Today we are celebrating an even greater miracle, the miracle of epiphany, the miracle that human consciousness evolved that could see the manifestation of God and then envision an ideal way to live by contemplating the force of love and life and light that created us.
The prophet Isaiah wrote about epiphany, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will appear over you…. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice.”
One of the miracles of human consciousness is that we can choose whether to turn to the light of God or turn away from it into the darkness of selfishness. Darkness has covered the earth, and thick darkness the peoples before, but we live in a time that is darker than ever.
Epiphany comes along and says, arise, shine, lift your eyes because the force of love and life and light is far greater than any darkness. See and be radiant! See the light and you will become a channel of its wisdom shining to transform the darkness and save the world. Read More