However, the stand-out volunteer of the morning (I dubbed him the welcome committee) was a big grey tiger stripped cat, clearly the neighborhood watch captain of sorts, who arrived as we were setting up for outdoor church and then hung around for the whole service. Making himself useful by checking in with every person in attendance, one by one and even a second round with some members of the congregation who apparently were very skilled at behind the ear scratching and back rubs. He paused to listen attentively to Stan’s reading of the morning’s Biblical passages. He wandered into the church to check it out at one point but his stay in there was brief – the action was clearly outside.
The service ended with a favorite hymn, hymn #718 found in the “National Hymns” section of our hymnal. Our singing was off limits since our breath doing so could affect the air being breathed in by others around us. But perhaps others’ hearts like mine were softly humming along with this postlude offering. The music, even without words, was a powerful prayer for weary hearts searching for Divine Providence to sustain us, help us through a troubled passage time, lead and guide us towards a clearer horizon. Some of the words are still on my heart days later. It is familiar to us as the hymn “God of our fathers” - but, of course, God is the God of both fathers and mothers – of our forebearers and of the founders of this nation who were drawn to the idea of freedom, but depended upon a providential God for passage to it and being sustained in it.
God . . .
thy love divine has led us in the past . . . in this free land by thee our lot is cast . . .
be thou our ruler, guardian, guide and stay . . . thy word our law, thy path our chosen way
from war’s alarm, from deadly pestilence . . . be thy strong arm our ever sure defense . . . thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace
refresh thy people on their toilsome way. . . lead us from night to never ending day . . . fill all our lives with love and grace divine . . . and glory, laud and praise be ever thine.
Looking ahead to July "Sundays"
Last Sunday's patriotic theme gave shape to our morning services. Next Sunday our Morning Prayer service on July 12
th (both the outdoors in person one at 9 a.m. and our Zoom service at 11 a.m.) will be shaped musically and liturgically around the theme "For the Beauty of the Earth and Joy in all its Creatures" as summertime offers its abundance and presents its joyful energy all around us. In preparation, spend some time this week sitting outside under the shade of a favorite tree, or picking something tasty from your vegetable garden for supper, or attending a bird song morning or evening concert in your yard. The old trees at North Farnham Church will again shelter us this coming Sunday. The remainder of our July Sundays we will worship around and under the ancestor trees at Sabine Hall where St. John's will host the services. "Ancestor trees" is my favorite term for old, weathered, big beautiful trees planted by those whose names perhaps may have been forgotten over time. Looking forward to being with you, whether in person, over the internet air waves and/or simply joyfully in "spirit" wherever we may be otherwise.