On October 2nd, musicians from Sicamous United Church teamed up with musicians from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Salmon Arm, and offered, as the title suggests, a musical celebration of gratitude. Alas, we can’t play the music for you here, but we can give a bit of an idea of what happened. Actually… it was AWESOME. The music moved people to tears and cheers and nearly dancing 🙂
Prayer of Opening:
Holy One, when words alone fail,
you bless us with the language of music.
From deepest despair to tentative hope,
from giddy-in-love to bare-bones-blues
from military marches to majestic praise,
our lives find expression in music.
Accept our musical expression today –
as we offer gratitude in the complexity of life. Amen.
Intro: Let It Be
In the language of the church, `Mother Mary’ refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Paul McCartney who wrote the song, also had a mother named Mary, and she died when he was a young boy. Paul has said in interviews that when he wrote the song he was thinking about his mother. In the song Mary comes like an angel whispering to him these wise words– let it be. “Let it be” means let go, relax, don’t worry about your troubles.
This would be in contrast to the cartoon I once saw of a cat hanging by its claws on a screen door. The caption read: Everything I ever let go of had claw marks all over it.
If subliminally even, Paul might be referring to the `other Mary’, the mother of Jesus, we find her saying these very words in the context of hearing that she will soon bear a child. In Luke 1: 38 Mary said, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word.” Which in Sicamous language would be something like, “This sounds crazy God, but I’m going to really trust you on this one!”
Whichever way you see it, the song Let It Be is a song of trust that we will be accompanied by love through the dark night of the soul, through sorrow and trouble. For that we are grateful.
Intro: Each Blade of Grass
There is a Jewish wisdom saying: Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’ Inspired by that quote, Keri Wehlander, who lives in Naramata, wrote these lovely lyrics to an old tune found a book of Sacred Harmony. The arrangement is by Linnea Good – who lives in Summerland. Please sing it with us!
Intro: What a Wonderful World Mary reading Psalm 8
I first heard the Ian Thomas song `Grateful’, when I drove up from Merritt to attend Kim McMillan’s retirement party. Kim had been the Conference minister for KO Presbytery and he had recently heard the song, and liked it so much that he wanted to sing it.
In the list of song I wish I’d written, this one would certainly be near the top. Life doesn’t always go the way we want; we screw up sometimes, and we wish we could change the past, take back what was said, get out of a relationship sooner, have chosen a different town, a different job, but then… we learn to hold it lightly, to be gentler with ourselves. We see the people who have blessed us and stood by us on the way…and we are grateful.
Intro: He’s got the Whole world/Amen
We did a wonderful jazzy version combining these two great songs.
Intro: The Trumpets Sound the Angels Sing
Today is World Wide Communion. Now that may sound strange to those of you who come from the Catholic tradition. Celebrating Mass, or the Eucharist, or Communion is at least an every week occurrence in the Catholic and Anglican Church. When I was growing up in the United Church we had communion only four times a year – because it was considered so special. But you should have it every week if it’s special, came the other side of the argument. Practices have changed and now many United Churches celebrate the sacrament of communion at least once a month. And today, definitely, we share this small and common meal, in solidarity with faith communities around the world. This song, which Jennifer introduced to us a few weeks ago, is a delightful invitation to Communion, the Lord’s Supper, Mass, the Eucharist.
While studying for my BA at the University of Victoria in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, I attended a few United Churches depending on where I was living. However, it seemed most of my friends were Catholic. They invited me to church on Sunday afternoon. I was rather nervous. You see, the Catholic priest knew me; I couldn’t fake my way in. He knew I was studying so I could go on to theology and ministry in the United Church. And I knew there were some `rules’ about who should and shouldn’t take communion in the Catholic Church. What would Father Leo do when he saw me there? To my dismay, I found myself front and centre as the semi-circle of university students stood for communion. Leo was headed straight for me and I was dreading the thought of this lovely man quietly asking me to step aside. Leo looked me in the eye, handed me the chalice and said, ‘Juanita, will you help me serve?’ With those six words he broke the `rules’ and he broke the barriers. For that I am forever grateful.
I have shared a Shabbat meal with a Rabbi in Vancouver, and recently in Salmon Arm, the Muslim Syrian refugees shared a meal with their hosts to mark the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer.
Images of the kingdom of God always include a feast where all are welcome, where no one is left out, regardless of ability pay or profess a particular faith. One of the best definitions of communion I’ve heard is: “One beggar showing another where the bread is.”
No wonder that Jesus used the sharing of a meal to reveal that we are never alone; that the Christ spirit resides in everyone. And so he took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to his friends and said, this is my body broken and shared among you. Whenever you eat this, you will know I am with you. He blessed and poured the wine, giving it to them as a sign of the new covenant. And what is the new covenant? Love one another as I have loved you. In communion we celebrate the witness of Jesus the Christ – the Bread of Life, and the True vine.
After communion we ended with a fun little `Go Now in Peace’ with several overlapping parts.