President Abraham Lincoln said, “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog or cat is not the better for it.” Our religion is meant to change the way we live for the better both in the smallest of ways that would affect our dog or cat and in the biggest of ways that affect the lives of our family, our neighbors, our church, our community, our nation and our world. How we live this life matters.
How we respond to suffering especially matters, both our own suffering and the suffering of others. As Bishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho write in this Sunday’s Silent Meditation, “Transformation begins in you, wherever you are, whatever has happened, however you are suffering. Transformation is always possible…. We are not responsible for what breaks us, but we can be responsible for what puts us back together again. ”
You can read more about the service and listen to some of its deeply moving music in the rest of this brief article.
We will explore the wisdom the lectionary scriptures offer, including Psalm 146 and Luke 16:19-31. The sermon takes its title from I Timothy 6:6-19, “Godliness Combined with Contentment.” That passage teaches us how to “take hold of the life that really is life.”
We will sing two great favorites from the Pilgrim Hymnal, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” and “O Day of God, Draw Nigh,” as well as the popular, moving gospel song, “When Peace Like a River (It Is Well with My Soul),” led by our Diverse Traditions Music Team, which will also sing Pete Seeger’s “Turn Turn Turn” during the children’s time.
The choir will sing verses of the New Century Hymnal hymn, “O for a World,” and the heavenly “Lo, a Voice to Heaven Sounding” by D. S. Bortniansky as the Anthem. Organist John Atwood will play pieces by J. S. Bach, Andre Raison and J. Pachelbel. The first of the music videos below is the Pachelbel.
The next two videos are very different versions of Turn Turn Turn. It was written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s drawn directly from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The Byrds made it a cultural icon in the 1960s. The first video below is their recorded version of it, and the second is a performance of it by Pete Seeger when he was 93, not long before his death, which includes verses written by his beloved wife as lullabies for their children–verses never performed in public until this concert. Have your hanky in hand when you watch it.