I have been privileged to hear the St. Paul's choir sing for almost thirty years. They get better as time passes. Not only that but also on this trip they are, in my opinion singing the best I have ever heard them sing. I mentioned this to one of the members of the choir after the service on Thursday and he said, "Yes, when we get to practice every day we are able to sing better as a choir." Think of that! Daily practice helps them sing better. Why didn't I think of that! All along I should have been, could have been stressing the importance of "having a daily practice."
I have been very impressed with the clergyman who is leading the services of worship and Evensong. He is the Rev. John MacLuckie. It turns out that he and I have a tremendous amount in common. We are, as he put it, "on the same page" theologically. He is an authority on Thomas Merton, reads Rohr, is familiar with James Finley and has read Ilia Delio - among others. He is also a practicing Zen Buddhist. He has read the book "Without Buddha I could not be Christian."
On an even more personal note he has asked me to participate in three of the services. I was the reader on Wednesday, wrote and offered the intercessions on Friday and am to assist at the Eucharist on Sunday. I wasn't expecting this.
Those of you who have a personal connection with the choir in one way or another would be so pleased at the work they are doing. They do what they for the love of doing it, to express a gift, to honor sometime deep within them and to be part of a team. As well as for many other reasons, I am sure. Except for designated solos no individual voice stands out above another. They are not seeking recognition just finding expression.
There is also something to be said for daily ritual as found in being a part of the daily evensong service. The service in its current form has been sung for centuries. And, is based on a ritual that goes even further back. Whatever one's primary mode of worship or religious ritual, it is present in this service: silence, music, the reading of Scripture and prayer.
I want to close this entry by offering a few of the intercessions I wrote for Friday's service:
"Holy God, your world is populated by us - fragmented human beings who are not one but many. Many conflicting desires, impulses, acts and talents. We are capable of the lowest and the highest. Caught in the multiplicity we are, we become absent to you, to each other, to ourselves. May we awaken to your Sacred Presence - right here, right now."
"We week, especially in the face of events like the recent violence in Nice, France that takes the lives of innocent people. Yet, we breed a violent culture as we fail to cherish and respect all lives.
"Move powerfully in our body politic, move us toward peacefulness that does not want to hurt or kill, move us toward justice so that the troubled and the forgotten may know mercy, move us toward forgiveness so that we may escape the trap of revenge."
"We pray that all people everywhere spend longer and deeper periods in peace, love and joy."
I am sending this post off on Saturday morning here. There are no services at St. Mary's today. Our plan is to go to the National Museum of Scotland and immerse ourselves in a special exhibition about the Celts. Later, as we move up the West coast and, then, go over to the islands, we'll see first-hand the influence these people had on what became known as Celtic Christianity.