A few people have commented that the hymns I am choosing are new and unfamiliar to the congregation. Some are very happy with this and are enjoying the new music...others, not so much. I understand both perspectives.
One of the pastor's responsibilities in leading worship is to choose the hymns (the musicians choose the prelude, postlude, anthem, offertory, and special music). After 10 years of designing worship services, I have learned that hymn selection is as important as the sermon. Music is critical to our worship. A hymn's lyrics, tone, tempo, pitch, structure, and more all serve to elicit memory, emotion, sensation, and even cognition. The hymn is the Word of God in musical form.
For all these reasons, some congregants feel a strong attachment to a certain set of hymns. It's not just a question of preference, it's a matter of his or her experience of the divine. When new sounds and new words are introduced they can serve to open one's experience to greater things, or it can hit a discordant note and strike the listener as heretical. This is why pastors get in more trouble with their congregations over changes in music than almost any other issue.
So why would I introduce changes the way I have? The answer is simple...Covid. We are in such an unusual situation as I design worship remotely, alone, without the interaction with my new congregation or the feedback of Chris Davis. I have no idea what is or is not familiar to you. And, since I am only working with musicians who can sing pretty much anything, my choices are wide open. It is interesting to me that this is where God has led us. As unsettling as it is for some, it is opening up the whole hymnal to us.
This is just one more unintended effect of life in a pandemic. It is my prayer that we can take from it what God would give us...an opening up of the Word in new ways so that our understanding might be expanded and refreshed.
*I apologize that our midweek email is a day late. This week seemed to be a perfect storm of deadlines...all good things but also all at the same time.
Last Call on Fish Banks!
We still have fish banks in the church office available for any member who would like one. If you cannot get to the office, the Deacons have volunteered to bring them to you. Just let the office know. Thank you!
Beginning this Sunday, we will begin a series from Faith and Reason on The Ten Commandments: Laws of the Heart featuring Joan Chittister answering the questions
• Are the Ten Commandments antiquated and obsolete?
• Do they have anything useful for us in the 21st century?
• How did they come to be, and what was their original purpose?
• Have the 10 commandments evolved?
In this series, Joan Chittister, OSB, invites us to think deeply about the moral fibers of our society. She presents the idea that the Ten Commandments are an adventure in human growth and that we are not so much convicted by them as we are transformed by them. “What does it mean to us, to the world, to preserve the Ten Commandments as the bedrock of our civilization?” Sr. Joan offers an honest and refreshing approach to the Ten Commandments unlike anything else today.
Please Join us Sunday right after Coffee Hour at 11 AM on Zoom!