“O sing unto the Lord a new song …” Psalm 98
Well maybe they weren’t new songs, but this past Sunday morning, St. Alban’s worship music was very different. Late Saturday night, our organist and choir director Justin Boyer realized he was pretty sick and would be unable to get to church. Yipes.
When we choir members gathered, we decided to change the anthem to an a cappella one we knew. We figured we could get the pitch for our processional hymn from a cell phone, and one of us could pitch everything else from the piano. But we wondered how the congregation would adjust.
St. Alban’s, you more than adjusted, you joined in and made a joyful service. It seemed that folks in the pews quickly got in the “let’s make church” mood, robustly singing in parts and having a good time doing it. That was a little easier with the larger 9:15 congregation than at 11:30, but everyone relaxed and did their part in making sure all aspects of worship were meaningful.
That’s what happens in committed communities of faith. Church services are not performances for spectators; they are full-on exercises in togetherness with each other and with God. We come to church on Sunday mornings to share loving, learning and thanksgiving. We are renewed through the intimacy of the Holy Spirit among us. We take responsibility for each other’s spiritual nourishment. From powerfully moving forum presentations through participatory worship, we are joined in making church. And that’s just Sunday.
On Monday, a couple dozen parishioners participated in a workday to spruce up our buildings and grounds. One comment heard: “This gives me a feeling of belonging, of ownership.” Every day, we belong. Every day, we are co-owners of St. Alban’s with a generous God. And some days, like Sunday, that is easy to see.
The children’s hymn “I Am the Church” [Avery and March] says it well:
Sometimes the church is marching;
sometimes it's bravely burning,
sometimes it's riding, sometimes hiding;
always it's learning.
And when the people gather,
there's singing and there's praying;
there's laughing and there's crying sometimes,
all of it is saying:
I am the church! You are the church!
We are the church together!
All who follow Jesus, all around the world!
Yes, we're the church together!
P.S. Justin is improving and will be back with us soon.