“My Two Cents” seems to be back in business, thanks to the determined efforts of my wife. (I need to be extra nice to her for the rest of the year.) Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, dear.
There have been some blog-worthy events during the last 27 days – including the night I killed a spider the size of a ping pong ball – the quick trip I took to Decorah – the day Kathy and I returned to The Hot Shop to blow glass (Kathy didn’t throw up this time) – the continuing saga of trying to put my Carthage office in order – the night I finally got the Barrows, Conners, and Veltmans to go to Ted’s Montana Grill (they loved it) – the day we found out that because of one lousy quarter-inch, our new patio door will have to be a special order, to the tune of $900 more than it would otherwise cost – the day I went out for lunch with Walter (fun) but got tagged with two parking tickets (not fun) – the exciting start of a new school year – the unexpected joy of welcoming five new members to my choir at Holy Communion . . .
. . . but I want to be especially certain to celebrate The Great Move Upstairs which happened last Sunday at Holy Communion. The congregation got essentially evicted from the sanctuary in early June so it could be re-carpeted, re-painted, re-wired, re-plastered. . . rejuvenated in just about every way you can imagine. For a congregation which prizes its sanctuary as much as we do, this was a rather wrenching experience – having to ditch our gorgeous sanctuary for one of the drabbest church basements in the western world. (It amounted to the ecclesiastical equivalent of moving from the Hilton to Motel 6.) But in fact it proved to be a really fun and meaningful summer – and more than a few people said that they wouldn’t mind if the congregation spent every summer in the cooler and more intimate confines of the basement. (We’ll see.) And really and truly, our time down in the basement was so nice and I think a few of us were trying to remember what it was about the sanctuary that we were so sad to leave.
And then last Sunday, we returned to that sanctuary and suddenly remembered why it will always be home. I walk into that room and it’s as though a chorus of angels starts singing the Hallelujah Chorus inside my head. It’s one of those special rooms that makes you feel the presence and majesty of Someone / Something much much bigger than you and I and all the rest of us put together. And then you open your mouth to sing and it’s as though that magnificent room takes each and every sound and multiplies and enriches it a hundred fold. (Some rooms, by contrast, take sounds and suck all the life out of them.) And then you look at those pews and you think of the saints who have sat in them over the years. . . including people like Ed Aller and Bob Johnson and John Windh and others too many to name or count. . .
For the occasion of returning to our sanctuary, I wrote a new setting of Psalm 122. . . “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” Better words could not have been sung on such a very happy day.
pictured above: one of the things that made Sunday an especially festive day was the presence of all three of our pastors: Jeff Barrow, Kathy Brown, and Steve Wohfeil. Because they are shared amidst three different churches (plus, in the case of Jeff, the synod office) they have probably never all been in the sanctuary at the same time EVER. So this felt as momentous as that occasion on teh Emmys when the original Charlie’s Angels showed up to honor Aaron Spelling. (But don’t tell the pastors that I was likening them to Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, and Farrett Fawcett. I’m not sure they would entirely get it.)