The Silent Meditation in the bulletin this Sunday is from our former neighbor in the Upper Valley, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, who said, “Joy is the most essential Christian emotion. Duty calls only when gratitude fails to prompt.” We do not have to look far for sources of gratitude and joy. We are surrounded by a gloriously colorful fall steadily unfolding under deep blue October skies. We have a loving congregation full of people with diverse gifts and talents who are helping us worship and serve in a variety of ways. We have children in the church who are eager to participate, and not just in refreshments! (Please remember to bring colorful leaves for them this Sunday for the Burning Bush they will be creating in Sunday School!)
And yet we also have around us plenty of reasons to despair, plenty of opportunities for discouragement or resentment. We see people around us who are not grateful and not joyous. Sometimes we ourselves slip into negativity. The scriptures and hymns this Sunday remind us to have faith and to live our faith as a path to well-being, gratitude and joy. The question in a life of faith is, what does our gratitude or our joy prompt us to do now for God and for our neighbor?
We will read from Psalm 111 and hear the healing of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c and the healing of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. We will sing “Great Is Your Faithfulness,” “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Our Diverse Traditions Music Team will lead the first hymn and will also sing the great gospel tune, “Where Could I Go but to the Lord?” as part of the children’s time (and I will be telling the children a Narnia story about Puddleglum, too). The choir will sing one of the most popular Native American hymns, “Many and Great, O God, Are Your Works,” as well as the Franz Schubert Anthem, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord.” Organist John Atwood will play pieces by Alexandre-P.-F. Boely, J. P. Sweelinck and Maurice Blazy.
Here is a YouTube video with Emmy Lou Harris singing “Where Could I Go but to the Lord.” (If you go to YouTube to watch it you will find the lyrics beneath it by clicking on “Show More.”)
Here is a large church production of “Many and Great, O God, Are Your Gifts.”
And here is one of the most popular versions of “Great Is Your Faithfulness” on YouTube: