Musical Journey through “Sent.”

On Sunday, our chronological exploration of sacred music will move us into the “Romantic” period of music. We’ll spend three Sundays, in France, Germany and England, respectively. One of the most important factors was the rise of individualism as composers sought to express something unique to their experience of the world—and not merely a well-executed piece of musical craftsmanship fitting into a Classical form. It’s an instinct I think we can recognize today, the desire to be heard, to say something unique and make an impact on the world. Most of the musical expressions of this period had their greatest manifestation on the concert stage, as the increasing length and size of the orchestras called on to play this music made its use impractical within the worship services. Nevertheless, there are great examples of musical Romanticism written for the church that beautifully express the seeking out of the divine.

There is something wonderful about being able to look back at art and literature and see the striving, the creativity, and the development of thought and craftsmanship. What a joy to join in with the generations of our fellow humans as we seek to give thanks to God for his beautiful presence in the world.


Theological Imagination

One of my goals this year is to help expand the “theological imagination” of the congregation. So far this includes redesigning the 3rd floor as a comprehensive children’s ministry facility; finding creative ways of using the worship service to educate and deepen our faith; and focusing the spring Christian Leadership Intensive on articulating theological reasons for what we do. In all of this, we will be called to get out of our social and theological comfort zones. Whether that is picking up the Bible for the first time or starting up a conversation with someone who is different from you, this “stretching” can take many forms. Relying on God, we are called to seek creative solutions to our problems, and to seek out new relationships and embrace change, confident that Christ our Rock will carry us through.  Our God is a God who “makes a way out of no way.” And Christ calls us to do the same. So as we finish our United. series and look forward to Sent., let us take this week to pause, breathe, and prepare ourselves for the glorious and challenging work God is calling us to.

Pastor Rachel

United in Christ

As you’re reading this, I am somewhere in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on my annual mountaineering trip. This is always a highlight of my year, and I know that I’ve mentioned it more than once in conversation! In fact, hiking and mountaineering are favorite pastimes for my wife and I. Whether in the cold of northern New England or the heat of the Grand Canyon. For both of us, being in the mountains is not just a getaway, but a time and place of renewal and rest.

Because of this, one of my favorite authors is John Muir. The Scottish son of a Presbyterian minister, he found his way out west and was an early prophet of the value of wild places and the outdoors. He was even instrumental in beginning the National Park system! While his theology wasn’t strictly orthodox Presbyterianism, he nonetheless brought a deep sense of the sacred to nature.

As we finish up our “United.” series, I am reminded of a favorite quote of his: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” In nature, Muir encountered the mutual intertwining of all things. In scripture and in our experiences, we likewise are reminded that all people and all creation is bound together, indivisibly, as one.

So let that be our unity, not that we are forced to “make nice” with others out of obligation, but because we are reminded that not one of us is truly able to separate ourselves from one another, but in fact we need each other, as the Body of Christ.