I’m one who prefers the humble cleric in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and my own humble rector (pastor) at my church, St. Luke’s Episcopal in Fort Valley, Georgia. Egotistic performances at the pulpit normally turn me off.
Today, however, I heard a sermon presentation (not just a sermon but a presentation with video, song, and even a virtual choir) that was part of the Sunday service for the Episcopal Washington National Cathedral. The presentation, “Weary Throats and new songs,” began with compelling song by an older black female vocalist, and after several minutes, the voice of Rev. Otis Moss III began to be heard.
The singing and song were wonderful. But at first, I was not comfortable because his was a fast-paced delivery filled with as many big words as he could squeeze in to capture the essence of the song and of song in the black American experience. I could barely keep up at first with what he was trying to say.
More video could be seen with a young girl watching her grandmother sing in church choir practice, and Rev. Moss kept talking. I began to be moved by the music and the experiences he was describing, and after a while it occurred to me that the events of our time excuse or even require the forcefulness he was using to get across his message.
He ended by suggesting that not only has song carried people through, in the time of the Israelites and in the black experience in our country, but also choirs strengthen us, the act of singing together, being connected in song. I feel this myself, from my participation in our very small choir at St. Luke’s.
Rev. Moss called up on the screen a virtual choir consisting of the musicians, tech people and singers from his congregation. Most of them wore shirts saying "Stay Connected." The experience was very powerful. I’d say it was cathartic if it wasn’t more of a call to action for us to become and stay connected.
I'm a Swedish Lutheran turned Episcopalian who prefers sedate church services and humble preachers, and I would like to share with you the service that so impressed me today. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo44NzWjp0A to be strengthened by song.
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