above- "Herself" © 2003 T. Jutsum; acrylic on canvas - The Spirit hovers over the Earth like a mother over her child
Manifestations of the Holy Spirit: wind and tongues of fire; sudden, supernatural knowledge; miraculous healings and raising from the dead; people transported instantly to distant places; people shining so brightly others can’t bear to look at them; prisoners freed by angels and earthquakes. And: Finding the right words for another person’s encouragement or guidance. Help deciding where to go next. Seeing past prejudice - even caution and ideas about cleanliness - to another person, complex, dignified, divine. Sobriety. Song. A whole community willing to share material goods. A community that hears the voices of those who complain that they’ve been neglected, and successful administration of meals to all in need. Discernment between what is essential and nonessential in a community.
I need help (and I assume I’m not alone in this) with the connection between wonder at the marvelous and the steady, inconspicuous responsibilities it leaves in its wake, responsibilities that can feel like they dampen wonder and wall off mystery.
I’m tempted to think of the connection as an economic exchange: I pay my pledge, rehearse on Wednesday nights, and usher at compline; I get a beautiful sacred space, good music, and a sublime worship experience.
This economic metaphor means I have a dual role - I can be a consumer, a spectator; I can tiptoe into compline, full of strangers toward whom I easily feel a general goodwill (as long as they’re quiet); I can receive communion and savor the moment, kneeling in a pew and praying reverently (instead of crowding into the back room with the knocking radiator and, thinking, well, really, can we still not figure out how to line up so that we can walk out in rows with some decorum and not like a gaggle of panicked geese?). Or, if I’m not caught up in reverence, I can still be a liturgical connoiseur: Ah, yes, one of my favorite collects; ah, Tallis; what a fine experience!
To sustain this economy, I can be a “producer”: I can do my part to provide an experience for those who are “consumers.” And this concept brings some baggage: pride in a good performance, anger at those who might bring my performance down, fear that it’s not good enough, and, if I’m honest, resentment toward the “consumers” who drop in occasionally and just assume the walls won’t fall down, the windows won’t fall in, there will always be a priest, a music director, a choir, organists, and a congregation as the backdrop for their annual transcendent experience (not very nice, but that’s a producer for you).
Besides the economic metaphor, there’s another set of impulses, roughly overlaid with the consumer/producer roles. One is to just sort of stand around, spiritually, waiting for those transcendent experiences, as if they are all that keep me going. The opposite is to be a nuts-and-bolts behind-the-scenes insider, the Man behind the Curtain, getting to know people and their quirks and little conflicts with others (and maybe reveal mine to a select group), to roll my eyes when so-and-so’s doing such-and-such again, to know all about the falling plaster and falling walls and committees, to be In but not “taken in”, to Know How Everything Works (and How Everything Should Work). It has its consolations--a sense of competence in a predictable sphere, most of all.
Over and over, we revisit this set of poles: Mary/Martha, the prodigal son/the elder brother, aesthetic and ethical.
Oh, how we want and need them to connect and to start merging, so that we don’t become shallow and dabbling or jaded and resentful, so that we see our daily places, people, and work are full of God.
Oh, how I need them to be pure: to have moments when all the business and all my self-consciousness drops away and a Bach fugue knocks me into God like a tsunami; to have times when I realize I can find sheer will to get out of bed and do the dishes and meet perplexing people and be nice and just Do Work when everything feels utterly empty.
I hope the Holy Spirit shows up somewhere in all of this ebb and flow, to help us live with ourselves and with each other. While we celebrate tongues of fire and a new calling, while sermons are about surprises and disruptions, some of us are precariously balanced, either in the pews or pulpits, in sacristies or soup kitchens, homebound or hospitalized, held up by habits when the easiest disruption is despair. And as we go through the long green life of ordinary time, some of us will have moments or days when the ordinary is overwhelmed with some blazing, glorious God.
How, in God’s name, do we share all that with each other? In an earlier draft I wrote that I thought that mainline protestants might struggle more than others to talk about that connection between God and ordinary life, but I’ve scratched it out. Surely everyone struggles to open up when languages of transcendence encounter languages of sophistication (or anti-intellectualism), of doubt, of doctrine (I don’t use this term disparagingly), of morality, of loyalty, of convention, of conviction, of uncertainty over something crucial, of lament, of nostalgia, of hope, of sheer boredom and weariness. What if I try to share something true and say it falsely? What if I try to share something sacred, and someone chuckles politely, or argues, or doesn’t even hear? What if I try to share the one thing that’s holding me up and someone knocks it down? What if I feel that I need to make a genuine moral effort at something and someone thinks I’m extreme? Or neurotic? Or self-righteous? Or joking? What if I sound delusional, or drunk (at 9 in the morning!)?
What if God is lost in translation? Not only between us, but within us, from transcendent moment to the ways we try to carry that moment forward into everyday life? How can we keep ourselves and our community together, let alone grow together, share everything, welcome strangers?
Even so. It seems we’re encouraged to believe that the Holy Spirit is about translation: visions to meals, marvelous healings to moral dilemmas, rehearsals to revelations, compline to conversations about the Cadillac hotel. What on earth does it look like, I wonder, to trust that translator a little more? Or even fully?
It is Pentecost and I am with you in SPIRIT!!
I've seen my Lyme specialist and, while the blood work is inconclusive, he is treating for possible co-infections to be on the safe side. The antibiotic treatment will end in June, and I hope to feel better shortly after, if not before. I'm learning so much about the human immune system and the complexities of what goes into our chemical make-up. I am, in fact, seeing multiple theological metaphors in my studies of the microbes within us - the good, the bad, and the neutral. (Expect the term "microbiome" to fly from the pulpit on my return.)
Symptoms come and go, depending on the dormant and active cycles of the bacteria, and the effects of the antibiotics. I've noticed a real difference in mental sharpness and physical energy on my special paleo/ketogenic diet, and after I'm completely better, I might just stick to it and to taking my herbal supplements (I like to show them off). What is most confounding about Lyme disease - the current medical contraversies regarding treatment and recovery - is also, for me, the most truth telling: that my body instinctively knows how to heal from this disease if I listen and give it time. And herbs!
I am healing, and it is taking time, but I am healing and it is real. Thank you for your prayers, and your prayers for one another and for all who are in need of healing. Prayer for healing is more than prayer. It is also a proclamation of hope, of the good that is to come, and of the God for whom we wait. "Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard." (Isaiah 58:8)
See you soon in church,
Did you know that Ruth has a blog? It's beautiful and you can find it here-
Cleveland Museum of Art
This is a setting of the "Our Father" by Scott Perkins our former Assistant Director. Thatcher Lyman is heard here as the solo voice. Thatcher is our present Assistant Director. Scott's work may be purchased via this link: http://www.scott-perkins.com/store/th... Audio/Video by Mobile Audio Productions by Michael Sherman “The Christ Church Schola Cantorum… sings beautifully.” Fanfare, Jan/Feb 2010. Founded in 1997 by Stephen Kennedy, the Schola performs the Office of Compline at Christ Church Rochester NY, Sunday evenings, October through April. First-Sunday Candlelight Concerts and Compline was named “The coolest, most unusual music experience in the city…” in Rochester Magazine’s “Our Top Picks of 2014.” This acclaimed ensemble is also an early music laboratory through engagement of historic rehearsal and performance practices. The Schola specializes in Gregorian chant, Renaissance and Baroque choral music, and choral improvisation. It has collaborated with Manfred Cordes and Weser-Renaissance Bremen, Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Players, and organists Edoardo Bellotti, Hans Davidsson, David Higgs, Olivier Latry, William Porter, Joris Verdin, and Harald Vogel. The Schola has been a favorite of festivals and concert series, notably at the annual international Eastman-Rochester Organ Initiative. APM's Pipe Dreams, Minnesota Public Radio, and WXXI’s With Heart and Voice regularly broadcast tracks, via NPR, from the Schola's CDs. With organists Edoardo Bellotti and Stephen Kennedy, the Schola and dual organs performed a “guided improvisation” accompaniment to Carl Dryer’s 1928 silent classic La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc for Eastman's 2014 EROI Festival and the University of Rochester's interdisciplinary UCIS Cluster on Music and Film. The Schola’s latest CD is of 19th century French choral music with Belgian keyboardist Joris Verdin on Eastman's vintage Mustel harmonium. The Schola is comprised of Rochester-area musicians, Eastman School of Music faculty and students, and RIT faculty. Participation in the Schola is offered for course credit at the Eastman School of Music.
This improvisation attempts to reflect the bold themes of the Martin Luther’s text of “Nun comma, der Heiden Heiland” which is based on text of Ambrose of Milan (340-397). All verses of this hymn are not in our hymnal but are listed here as translated by William M. Reynolds.
1 Savior of the nations, come,
virgin's Son, make here Thy home!
Marvel now, O heav'n and earth,
that the Lord chose such a birth.
2 Not by human flesh and blood,
but the Spirit of our God,
was the Word of God made flesh--
woman's Offspring, pure and fresh.
3 Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child
Of the Virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
still to be in heav'n enthroned.
4 From the Father forth He came
and returneth to the same,
captive leading death and hell--
high the song of triumph swell!
5 Thou the Father's only Son,
hast o'er sin the vict'ry won.
Boundless shall Thy kingdom be;
when shall we its glories see?
6 Brightly doth Thy manger shine,
glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin o'ercloud this light;
ever be our faith thus bright.
7 Praise to God the Father sing,
Praise to God the Son, our King,
Praise to God the Spirit be
Ever and eternally.
(I call it Awesome!)
For more information about concerts and music events, please visit the Christ Church website:
You can also find the billboard of ongoing and special future events by going to the top of this section and clicking on the link "MUSIC GALLERY".
Here are just a few ways in which Christ Church members and friends may participate in our program:
• Becoming an Usher/Candle-lighter for Compline
• Make contributions to our Friends of Music Fund. This fund supports music at Christ Church. It also enables us to provide musical outreach to the Rochester community through music-training programs, concerts, and enables us to enhance our liturgies with music.
• Purchase our various CD recordings for friends and family members as gifts.
• Assist in publicizing music at Christ Church by helping sending emails to the local media
Please contact me if you are interested in participating in any aspect of our music program at Christ Church. Stephen Kennedy, Music Director firstname.lastname@example.org You may also support our music education and enrichment opportunities for young musicians who are dedicating their lives to the field of sacred music by contributing to Christ Church’s "Friends of Music" fund.
Please continue to follow the musical life of our parish by reading the monthly Music Notes and Calendar that are emailed from my address via MailChimp.
-Click on the posters below for a full page view.
The music sound files contained here are from the new CD recordings that have just been released. These recordings are available for purchase by clicking the link below. The music used in this publication is edited.
Other links of interest are: