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Pondering Anew these Perilous Times

By Steven Huprich, Senior Warden

I was at an outdoor service the other week, and I ran into a few individuals I had not seen since the pandemic began.  Their presence was surprisingly calming and renewing.  In the last few weeks I also have been watching the 9 AM services with organ and a small choral ensemble.  And just now, as I write this piece, I listened to the hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” as sung in Westminster Abbey for the 2020 Commonwealth Day Service.  Whether it was seeing a friendly face or listening to the ascending sounds of choir, organ, and brass, I was reminded of what it means to be in communion with each other and with God.  How I long for the days of being together and worshipping together in the space we call our church home!  To me, this is where I come face-to-face with the inspiration offered by the theologian, Oswald Chambers, who calls each to give “my utmost for His highest”.

But these recent experiences, when I finished them, brought me back to the reality of living in 2020.  What I had hoped would be a year of vision and aspiration has instead become one of holding firm through the storm—at home, at work, and even at the church. Such challenges were not part of my thinking when I became Senior Warden, but leadership does not always allow you to pick the context in which you will serve.   Maybe you have found living in these times to lead you to moments of apocalyptic threat, requiring you to heed the words of Winston Churchill:  “if you are going through hell, keep going.”  Such concerns have crossed my mind a number of occasions this year.

Nonetheless, I have been blessed by watching your faithful giving –in time, service, and resources—something Father Chris showcased in a recent sermon.  I also have been blessed by the persistence of our clergy, and the dedication of many parishioners who are working on our facilities renovation project, with construction scheduled to begin early in 2021.  But I have been mostly blessed through music.  The other night, I listened to some of my favorite music of my earlier years—songs from Chicago, Earth Wind and Fire, Billy Joel, and Elton John.  Mostly, though, I listen to classical music of faith.  Johann Sebastian Bach said, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”  And most recently, with appreciation to Christopher Wells and Nathan Costa, I found myself reminded of God’s eternal presence in the choral anthem, “I Choose Love,” written by Mark Miller, as a tribute to the victims of the shooting Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

In these perilous times, may we turn to our faith and the great traditions of our communal worship.  And may we recall the words of this great hymn when we most need them:  “Praise to the Lord who doth prosper thy way and defend thee.  Surely His goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee.  Ponder anew, what the almighty can do, who with His love doth befriend thee.”