just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Elephant in the Meetinghouse...


There is a fascinating exchange on Dwight Longenecker's blog in recent posts. There is much to chew on in the Monday post about the elephant in the chancel--authority in the Church and how we interpret Scripture.
The exchange between Fr. Dwight and Nicholas Lubelfeld is beautiful. My words are insufficient, yet I will only open my mouth to utter the words...
God of grace and God of glory, on thy people pour thy pow'r.
Crown thine ancient church's story, bring her bud to glorious flow'r.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.
Cure thy children's warring madness; bend our pride to thy control.
Shame our wanton, selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, lest we miss thy kingdom's goal,
lest we miss thy kingdom's goal.
Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore.
Let the search for thy salvation be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, serving thee whom we adore,
serving thee whom we adore.
There is a powerful arrangement of this hymn done by the EMU Chamber singers on a CD which I recently purchased with some Christmas money. As I have listened to the songs on this CD, this hymn in particular has moved me. The expansive sound of the solemn pipe organ transports me to a beautiful cathedral--which is also a metaphor for the church as I listen. The organ plodingly pulses and gradually crescendos in disonant tones that clash and capture a yearning, a struggle, a pressing forward through time. There is confusion, discordant notes, conflict, tension, movement and intensity. And then there is a break and a single harmonious melody emerges. There is light. There is order after the chaos. Grace. Glory.
This arrangement captures for me the mystery of God's grace revealed in the Church. Not on a linear, cognitive level, but at a visceral, spiritual level.

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