Notes from Jan

Holy Punctuation!

August 1, 2017

Grace Chapel’s eleven o’clock service couldn’t be less Episcopal, from aesthetics, use of multi-media to lyrics requiring standing, clapping and swaying, if coordinated. Amps, guitars, percussion and energetic younger folks lead the music where robed choirs once stood and sang, accompanied by organ. I still prefer choirs and organs with some exceptions but Maggie Blue, loved the music. “It’s like camp, Momo!”

Wasn’t it St. Paul who said something like, “Whatever it takes” and Jesus, “Let the kids come”?

In Garrison Keillor’s Life Among the Lutherans, he tells the story of a visiting organist from the Cities who subs one Sunday at Lake Wobegon Lutheran.

“Scripture says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ This is not the organist’s philosophy.  Organists despise stillness. They’re sitting there with the organ equivalent of a 300 hp Ferrari and they want to put the pedal to the metal and make that baby fly.”

The organist sent ahead music for the choir,”The motet was in French, for crying out loud, and the anthem was a piece of fifteenth-century plainsong with odd little square notes—-the opening hymn nobody had every sung before in their lives.  The Lutheran Book of Worship was, of course, put together by a committee, and there are hymns there that you know were included as a sop to the closet Anglicans on the committee, those weird hymns that reflected the mood of a community of monks living on a rocky island off Wales in the fifteenth century.  The opening hymn was a sort of musical hair shirt…basically unsingable.  The congregation sounded like a fishing village keening for its dead.  There were eight verses.”

“Laugh and Learn,” I tell myself.

For sure, music matters.

I need occasional helpings of Grace, seeing familiar faces, hearing Bryan Wilkerson preach, and sensing what’s happening in this branch of the Family.  Grace feeds my heart, seeing all God’s Colors seated around me, internationals,  hungry hearts seeking something more together.  Enough to make me even stand, clap and sing along.

We’ve come a long way. When Jud and I began attending Grace in the late 70s, women could share but not preach, and couldn’t be ordained. Pastor Sheryl Lackey preached today, continuing a Summer Series entitled “Life…Punctuated.”  She had me at the title.

Sheryl focused on the role of the period, God’s stops and endings, illustrated through the life of Moses,   and Longfellow’s,”Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”

True, for more than the creative process.

Never thought of God as Editor-in-Chief until I read Psalm 18  in The Message.

“God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.”

Holy Punctuation.

Throughout life’s question marks, pauses, run-ons, exclamations and stops,  God’s there to help us finish strong.

Organ or guitar?












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  • Reply Dale Lefever August 1, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    I still appreciate the “Messiah” and love to hear the pipes bellow. I wonder what the music of the heavenly hosts will mimic? Still love life between the dash for my spiritual punctuation.

    Mennonites are a tough crowd to please.

  • Reply Maggie August 1, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Jan, I was delighted with your reflection today for several reasons, not the least of which is that our oldest son, Adam, had the privilege of bringing the message at GC week before last. Adam is on staff at the Wilmington campus and so loves serving the GC family. I resonate with the “Life…Punctuated” series as well. As you noted, our lives have so many question marks, pauses, run-ons, exclamations and – painfully – full stops. Trust. Period. YES!

  • Reply susan August 1, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Organ, definitely organ! that being said, I’m so happy Maggie loves church.

  • Reply Maggie August 1, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Jan, I forgot to mention that Adam and his wife Liz are proud alums of Gordon College, class of 2004. Grateful for the countless ways you and Jud built into the lives of students and alumni. Your legacy continues.

  • Reply wendy lane August 3, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    I’m so thankful for our years at Grace Chapel – and one of those blessings was serving with you when you were Director of Women’s Ministry there! We go to a church that really “leans into the next generation” right now – I love the worship! It is mostly current songs, and truly worshipful (albeit a little loud :)) At our church, Steve and I head up the Vintage Ministry (the older generation) – He just barely qualifies and I’m really MUCH too young – but we love it! We have a night of singing hymns with them that is always very popular – good ol keyboard and voices – and those beautiful, powerful hymns. I’m so thankful for both types of music. That is a beautiful translation of Ps 18 – I love The Message. Still. <3

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