(originally appeared in a March, 2010 Rector’s Message)
Perhaps most consider it “one of those strange things that the Rector does.” This past Sunday Night, Ed Vetter, James Nichols and I spent an evening at Country Terrace. It was my turn to do the service for the residents.
Our appearance was a moment of interest from the moment that we pulled up into the parking lot. There we began unpacking some items we had brought: a guitar, a fiddle, a tenor banjo, a mandolin, and an autoharp. (James is just learning to play the autoharp.)
Along with those instruments we carried in a small table (for James to play the harp), a small amp, sundry cords, a microphone stand and a microphone, several music stands, two instrument stands, several players’ books, and about 25 people’s books. (Having done this for a number of years, I might note that this is not quite “easily portable music.” To be sure, it is easier than moving a grand piano– but there is still a lot of work and care to be done in the setup.)
We played instrumentals for quite awhile before the service. More and more people kept coming into the small parlor where those services are held. People who did not come listened from their immediate rooms. Staff members listened from the hallway. Finally at 6:30 PM, we began the formal service.
That service lasted for a half-hour. Given that it was Lent, we began with the Penitential Order. As the Gospel scheduled for that week was about the passion of our Lord Jesus, I spoke about our Lord’s passion while people listened with rapt interest.
Hymns included Children of the Heavenly Father, Little by Little, and Wade in the Water. James had just learned to play Wade in the Water. He was really excited about it. And the people really got into it, too.
Afterwards a dear soul who had been in the congregation that night came up and exclaimed, “Thank you for coming! You have no idea what you really do for us. You bring joy. You give us life.”
Later, as I was off-loading all that gear back into the parish house, my eye fell on the lists of outreach done by our parish during 2009. There were many wonderful things listed there, and they are all things I am very proud that we have accomplished as a parish.
While services such as the one we had just done were not on the list, and probably not on most folks’ radar, they are an important part of our parish outreach too. They are not just “the bizarre thing that the Rector goes off and does as part of his peculiar personality”—we bring joy, we bring life, we bring the Gospel, and we bring the love of Jesus.
And we bring it in the Name of Jesus, but we also bring it as a sign of care and love of Saint Paul’s.
People from the parish are always welcome to come enjoy these services, or even help to carry those items that form a procession of hope and joy. Our next occasion will be at the Green Home, at 2:30 PM.