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One Joyful Choir -- 11/25/07, Jim Eby One Joyful Choir -- 11/25/07, Jim Eby

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   Discussion: One Joyful Choir -- 11/25/07, Jim Eby
Jeanne Gay · 10 years, 1 month ago

November 25, 2007                                                                                                           Psalm 150

One Joyful Choir

Delivered by Jim Eby at Summit Presbyterian Church

What a day!  Homecoming at Summit.  That would be enough for a day of celebration, wouldn’t it?  Friends and loved ones reunited in thanksgiving for all the memories of faithful witness through the past years that happened because of the work of the Spirit in your midst.  The kind of reunion we just experienced as we gathered around tables burdened with all kinds of delicious food last Thursday.  But the food wasn’t just what we put in our mouths.  Equally as important was the food that nourished the soul, the nourishment that comes as we retell the favorite stories and remember the funny things that happened and the hard things we survived.  And did you at least occasionally hear: “Those were the good old days”?  Yes, Homecoming at Summit would be enough to celebrate today, giving thanks for God’s faithfulness and love we have experienced through our worship and fellowship in this congregation.

But we have more to celebrate – today we have the rededication of this outstanding organ as well.  I wish I had had the chance to meet and get to know Pat Henning.  The life I read about in the article posted on the bulletin board is an exemplary one, filled with passion, integrity, humility.  It is obvious she lived until she died.  She wasn’t content to just exist – she lived life fully.  And her life didn’t end with her death.  You can read about the unknown number who will be touched because of the way her estate is being invested to continue to serve others.  And we are one of the fortunate recipients.  This organ, which was originally dedicated in 1922, was renovated in 1968 and then again in 1992.  But things get dusty and tired, just like some of us, and there are always improvements that can be made.  Because of Pat, the organ and its parts have been cleaned and upgraded and will serve the worshipping congregation for years to come.  And this rededication would, by itself, be enough to celebrate today, for music is so great a part of our worship of God.

A number of us are still hearing the melodic strains and remembering the music of a week ago last Saturday when some 450 Presbyterians gathered as One Joyful Choir at the Kimmel Center to praise God through music and song.  I wish all of you could have made the trip to be part of the congregation.  It was magnificent.  And, if we were to take the percentage of our choir members who participated, I’ll bet a whole nickel we would have had one of the higher percentages of all the congregations represented.  Hours and hours of rehearsal went into making that celebration the wonderful thanksgiving to God that it was.  Choristers from around the Presbytery sacrificed so that great congregation that almost filled the Kimmel Center could give thanks for the gift of music.  The Choristers brought an offering to God and we were privileged to be part of it all.

The director spoke, very near the end, and emphasized the offering of which we had been a part, Saturday afternoon.  He mentioned the sacrifice of time that went into rehearsal.  And then he reminded us all that there was more than just a sacrifice of time – there was the sacrifice of individualism, the sacrifice of the solo voice so the choir could speak in unison.  There was the sacrifice of time of solace, cherished time alone so we could be together and know how good and how pleasant it is when God’s children dwell together in unity.  There was the sacrifice of space, particularly for those of us who sense God’s closeness in the quiet of the out of doors.  For, in order to be the choir, we need to be together in proximity, and in this case of some 450 choristers – the largest to date on the Kimmel Center stage and balconies – in this case it was very close proximity.  The director remarked that God turns us inside out so this world and all its’ creatures may produce a joyful response to God’s goodness to us.

As he said that, there were two things that flashed through my mind.  The first was the question and answer from the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith.  It is the first question actually.  The one that goes:

             What is the chief end of man?

 And the answer:

 

            Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

That was part of what I had to memorized back in my Confirmation Class days, and I have carried it with me ever since.

Glorify God – well, that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?  We give God the glory for the great things he has done.  And we could spend the rest of our time together thinking about that – and that would be enough.

But there’s the other part of that answer:  “and enjoy him forever”.  Do we consciously “enjoy God”?  Our ancestors in the faith thought it so important that they put it first of the 107 questions and answers that compose the Shorter Catechism.

 

When we enjoy God, sacrifice becomes a joyful thanksgiving.  When we enjoy God, we put things in perspective and wonder with the psalmist, “When I consider the work of your hands, what am I that you should care about me?”  When we enjoy God, we live a life of musical celebration with the particular instrument we have been given, and as we read the 150th Psalm, there sure were a lot, weren’t there?

I said two things flashed through my mind at the Kimmel Center – the Shorter Catechism was one, and the other was a song I learned years and years and years ago at a Triennial Meeting of Presbyterian Women.  It’s a children’s song, for children of all ages.  And for me, it ties together this need to give thanks to God with whatever instrument God has given us, and so to glorify God and enjoy God forever with all we have and all we are.

 

The words of the song, written by Bill Staines, go this way:

All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got.

Listen to the bass, it's the one on the bottom
Where the bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus
Moans and groans with a big to-do
The old cow just goes MOOOOO

The dog and the cat pick up the middle
While the honey bee hums and the cricket fiddles
The donkey brays and the pony neighs
And the old coyote howls

All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got.

Listen to the top where the
little birds sing
On the melody with the high note ringing
The hoot owl hollars over everything
And the jaybird disagrees

Singin' in the night-time, singin' in the day
Little duck quacks, and he's on his way
The possum ain't got much to say
And the porcupine talks to himself

All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got.

It's a simple song of livin' sung everywhere
By the ox and the fox and the grizzly bear
Grumpy alligator and the hawks above
Sly raccoon and the turtle dove.

All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got.

 

All God’s critters – I guess that means you and me as well.  Like Pat Henning, let’s make the sacrifices that are really joyful thanksgiving as we live the rest of our days.

 

 

 

God, you are such an awesome God.  You created us to enjoy you and then you gave us each other so we could be one joyful choir.  Help us to do that this coming week and help us to reach out to others who need to know the joy of sacrificial living.  This we ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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