Our administrative committee recently conducted pastoral evaluations which included congregational wide surveys about the general worship life of our church. Most of you are familiar with this and have had something similar done in your own church. I admit I have a love-hate relationship with these evaluations. I love the fact that people, especially people who are usually not vocal, or the regulars standing by the piano to “chat” before I even get off the bench, have a vehicle to share their thoughts and their quiet observations about worship.
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Every congregation knows what it is to go through some kind of major change or transition. Most of us have experienced transitions between pastors - with vacancy, interim, search and finally call. Many of us have lived through, or rather survived a building renovation - paint chips, fabric samples and floor tiling strewn about while the unabating construction dust makes us feel like we’re permanently living in Ash Wednesday.
Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and ever present power of God by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty—
all things, in fact,
come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.
It was the first time I’ve ever sat down for this piece. I had all intention to stand up tall and conduct with precision and as much strength as I could muster, but when the choir processed to the front of the sanctuary and took their places, I looked at their faces, seeing the same deep pain I was feeling, reflected in their brimming eyes, and just couldn’t do it. The familiar three measure introduction rang out from the piano and the choral voices came crashing into the room like a wrecking ball on first impact. “Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
CRASH. I rocked back on my heels awkwardly, hoisting a 6 foot long wooden rod parallel to the floor, while avoiding smashing into the dingy closet ceiling or falling on the wax covered, fake foliage littered floor. I balanced the rod at the perfect angle and slowly backed out of the closet. I have a serious love/hate relationship with the banner closet. Yes, it houses the church’s treasured memories- glorious displays of talent and craftsmanship, labors of love woven into the hand-stitched fabrics, artistic representation of the church’s history.