Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner


I went to church today. My friend Phyllis was scheduled to sing a solo - a piece from Godspell, accompanied by guitar, played by the gifted musical director of the church.

It's an Episcopal church, a typical contemporary design. I have been to Episcopal services before so I decided to sit as far back as I could, out of view of most parishioners (if that's what they are called). I remembered that these services are very active. You have to be on your toes, swinging from the Book of Common Prayer to the Hymnal to the program, where there is a musical insert. It's easy to miss a beat and be standing when others are sitting or be hunting furiously for the right page when the speech or song is about over. I don't even attempt to kneel in prayer. Not only would it be physically too much but it would be hypocritical.

I did fairly well this time.The other times I have been to these services I also sang in the choir, and that meant additional flipping of pages, almost hopeless.

I imagine that the structure of the service is a comfort to church members. They always know what to expect, they become familiar with a lot of the responses without having to look them up, they know how to take communion. And they also seem to revel in what seems a more intelligent service, in terms of the readings, for example.

I love to sing the hymns. That hasn't changed, down through the years. I really start getting into it by the third or fourth verse of each one. And this musical director (also a member of the chorale) made some excellent choices. I suspect that many of the songs would normally be sung by a choir, so it was my luck that we got to do them all. THere were some beautiful melodic lines.

All this and an atheist too. I don't think of it as contradictory, that I can find such a service interesting and even in part enjoyable. I'll admit that I had thoughts at times that might have caused some church members to want to reach out to save me, but fortunately this isn't a church that does major missionary work.

Phyllis appeared nervous in the song but stayed with it, stayed on key if a little low in volume, and she delivered two readings as well, very well. She is a former teacher and loves to read out loud. Many others later complimented her on it, and well they should have.

Afterwards I sat with Phyllis in the room with the food, talking. Lots of food and drink, lots of people. I suspect this "community" thing is a major part of any church that is successful. I did laugh at the church's program. It says, at the top, "Welcome to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church 'The neighborhood church with a heart for YOU'". They have their own slogan.

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