Monday, February 9, 2009

A Sunday as a harbinger of Spring

Yesterday, Sunday the Eighth of February in the Year of Our Lord 2009, was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Music City! Weather-wise it was "chamber of commerce." And spiritually it could be described as "just what the Pastor ordered" I suppose.

It began as usual with my attending church at Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples). Pastor Jay had sent out a cordial invitation to his Sunday school class by e-mail in mid-week. He got a great response, as the classroom was packed with 20 young-to-middle-age folks (including several married couples). As typical, we had an animated discussion about the lectionary readings for the day. Two of these will be read in the Worship, and Pastor Jay said he'd also refer to a third during his sermon.

It was "Scout Sunday" at Eastwood yesterday, as at some other churches. All Scouts and Scouters (adult leaders) were encouraged to wear their uniforms. Oh, if only I'd had my shirt and tie from when I was Scoutmaster for the BSA troop in Devine (1992-94)! Pastor Jay, who is an adult leader for the Cub Pack that meets in the ECC building, donned his uniform, as did a couple other adults out there in the congregation. Joshua Hartley, the pastor's son and a Scout in uniform, started the Worship service by playing a Scout call to worship on his trumpet. (I hadn't know there was such a bugle/trumpet call!)

Later, for our anthem we the choir sang a stimulating arrangement of the great gospel song "Peace in the Valley" by Thomas Dorsey (who also wrote Martin Luther King's favorite song, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"). After Pastor Jay's sermon, "God's Delight", the hymn of discipleship was another wonderful gospel song, "There Is a Balm in Gilead". Any time I hear this song it fills me with joy due to its message. and with homesickness, due to its having been an a cappella number on a record I bought before I graduated from the University of Idaho in 1976. That LP vinyl album featured the U of I Vandal Marching Band on one side and the Vandaleer Choir on the other. So the notes and lyrics of "Balm in Gilead" always make me think of the tall pines, rolling fields and distant verdant mountains surrounding the U of I campus in Moscow, Idaho.

Yes, dear reader, I had to make an effort to not get a lump in my sentimental throat while we were all singing this fine song!

From Eastwood I went out to Green Hills on the other side of town, to eat a small Sunday dinner at Kroger. Had I been homesick for Moscow while at church? Well, I got homesick for my most recent hometown while dining there. The Kroger has a fine salad bar, and an area near the entrance with a few tables and chairs and two big-screen TVs. These were tuned to an NBA game in Boston, like they had been when I was out there Thursday evening. I only saw the start of that game, which was the LA Lakers versus the Celtics. The Celtics started very well, but by the time I had to leave they were on their way to an eventual loss. But in this Sunday afternoon game, of which I got to see the final four or five minutes, had the Celtics hosting the Spurs, who spend the first half of every February on the road due to the S.A. Rodeo using the same arena. Even tho' I like the Celtics in their green uniforms -- after all, I'm mainly Welsh-Scots-Irish (Celtic) in ancestry -- I'm going to root for the Spurs any time against anybody. And Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and crew didn't let me down. They won 103-96! Go Spurs go!

After some other activities outdoors in the gorgeous spring-like weather I went to Vine Street Christian Church (Disciples) for their Second Sunday evening activities. These started with a de-e-e-elicious potluck dinner in the fellowship. There was plenty of fried chicken as well as veggie dishes. Among the desserts was the remnant of a strawberry cake iced in pink and red; it had originally been heart-shaped. Vine Street had had a Valentine's theme earlier in the day, with a cake-tasting contest after morning worship, and this must have been one of those entries.

Then we adjourned upstairs to the sanctuary. The woman in charge of these Second Sundays, K.K. Wiseman, started us off with church camp style songs, to which we could keep the beat with various percussion instruments she'd passed out. Then she led us in an exercise in guided prayer. We got comfortable, closed our eyes, listened to her suggestions and thru this communed with our Lord. Afterward we celebrated the Lord's Supper, then concluded by circling up in the open space before the pulpit and table. Well, sort of circled -- an extension of the "circle" went a short way up the central aisle. After K.K.'s benediction we sang one final song a cappella, then dispersed into the darkness. Hopefully for all of us to carry from the worship the light of faith to share with others.

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