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This Sunday we will respond to the knowledge of God’s grace as we read in 2 Corinthians 4: Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God…for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal…For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. This Sunday we will also be so fortunate to have our former Music Director Clay McKinney’s and Julia Sakharova’s oldest son, Nicolai McKinney playing several pieces for us on the piano! He has been studying piano for several years now and has won numerous awards. We look forward to hearing him play the Offertory this week.

 

Our Processional hymn will be How wondrous and great thy works, and was written by Henry Ustick Onderdonk (1789-1827). Having decided to devote his life to medicine, he studied first in London and then in Edinburgh, receiving his M.D. from that university in 1810. Returning to New York, he began to study theology under Bishop Hobart and was ordained in 1815. He was rector of St. Ann's, Brooklyn, until 1827 when, following a famous controversy, he was elected bishop coadjutor of Pennsylvania, becoming diocesan in 1836 upon the death of Bishop White. He, with W.A. Muhlenberg, q.v., was influential on the committee appointed by General Convention to prepare the so-called Prayer Book Collection, 1826. The two men were also instrumental in the publication of the volume known as Plain Music for the Book of Common Prayer, in 1854. These books served until the Hymnal of 1874. Although some metrical psalms were included in the Prayer Book Collection, the book marked the change in America from psalmody to hymnody. Onderdonk contributed nine hymns, of which only this one survives. --The Hymnal 1940 Companion

 

Our Sequence hymn will be My faith looks up to thee. Ray Palmer (1808-1887) wrote these words while employed as a teacher at a private girls' school in New York. He had experienced a difficult year of illness and loneliness and was inspired to write this verse one night after meditating on a German poem that depicted a sinner kneeling before the cross of Christ. He later stated, "The words for these stanzas were born out of my own soul with very little effort. I recall that 1 wrote the verses with tender emotion…When writing the last line, "O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!" the thought that the whole work of redemption and salvation was involved in those words… brought me to a degree of emotion that brought abundant tears.” This hymn was written as a personal response to the realization of what Christ meant to the author. It is a prayer, acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the only source of forgiveness, love, comfort, and salvation. (hymnary.org)

 

Our final hymn will be God of grace and God of glory. Harry E. Fosdick was a well-known and controversial preacher in the early twentieth century. After Fosdick left his position at one church, John D. Rockefeller asked him to become pastor of Park Avenue Baptist Church in New York City, but Fosdick thought the church was too wealthy, and agreed only on condition that a new church would be built in a less fashionable place. The site selected for Riverside Church was on the banks of the Hudson, not far from Harlem. Fosdick wrote this hymn at his summer home in Maine in 1930 for the opening service of Riverside Church that fall. This hymn is a prayer for God's help for the church to live in God's power and love with generosity and progress toward social justice. The hymn tune CWM Rhondda is a well-known Welsh tune. It was written in 1907 by John Hughes, a Welshman who spent most of his life as a railway worker. The tune name literally means “Rhondda valley,” after the Rhondda River that flows through a coal-mining district of Wales. This tune has great vigor, and was at first circulated only in leaflet form because hymnal editors considered it too vigorous to be a proper hymn tune. (hymnary.org)


This Sunday we will begin our post-Pentecost focus on Jesus and his encounters with people around him, teaching them how their pre-conceived notions and expectations don’t always fit into the kingdom of God. When he heals on the Sabbath, he is confronted by religious leaders who claim that he is violating the 4th commandment. “Characteristically, Jesus’ response turns the accusation upside-down, not only is the Sabbath a gift given to humanity, but if Jesus is “Son of Man’ and “Lord of the Sabbath”, then it is his gift that the religious leaders are turning into a millstone.” (Sunday by Sunday Issue 83 Royal School of Church Music) This photo is one that I took in 2023 of the ancient port of Rome in Ostia Antica.

 

Our Processional hymn will be Christ, whose glory fills the skies, written by Charles Wesley in 1740. Wesley titled the text, Morning Hymn, and it is unusual because it doesn’t contain the customary reference to the previous night’s rest or to the work and dangers of the day ahead. The text begins by placing the focus entirely on Christ, the Light of the World, the sun of righteousness who rises with healing in his wings; he is the Dayspring and Daystar. Thus the light of Christ is to fill our lives and lead us forward to the perfect day. (Psalter Hymnal Handbook; hymnary.org)

 

The Offertory, When you, Lord, walked through Sabbath fields, was written by Sylvia G. Dunstan in 1991.  After a brief, arduous battle with liver cancer, she died in 1993 at the age of 38. For thirteen years, Dunstan had served the United Church of Canada as a parish minister and prison chaplain. She is remembered by those who knew her for her passion for those in need, her gift of writing, and her love of liturgy. She wrote at least 45 hymns, several of which we have sung in worship. This hymn reflects our Gospel reading in Mark 2 about Jesus teaching his disciples about the Sabbath as they walked through the grain fields. When you, Lord, walked through Sabbath fields of rising, ripened grain, your people ate the gracious yield that filled their hearts again. But following eyes watched every hand; the scribes could not believe That you would simply change their ban to let the poor receive. Where, Savior, do you walk today, which field or road or street? Whom do you touch along the way? What anger do you meet? O Christ, when you walk through our fields let us be by your side To learn from those you’ve fed and healed the love that you provide. (1991 GIA Publications, Inc.; Sing! A New Creation; hymnary.org) It is sung to the beautiful hymn tune Morning Song.

 

Our final hymn will be one that the congregation loves to sing: Here I Am, Lord. It was written in 1981 by Daniel Schutte, who is a Jesuit who tours as a Christian concert artist. The point of view changes between each stanza and the refrain. The stanzas take the perspective of God, while the refrain comes from us, the singers of the hymn offering ourselves to God. Each stanza ends with the question, Whom shall I send? followed by the clear declaration Here I am, Lord. May each of us be stirred to ask ourselves how we can serve in God’s kingdom each day this week. (Dr. Hawn; umcdiscipleship.org)

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