Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Elder Class of 2011 Farewell Song (with footnotes)

Monday evening was the last session meeting for the elder class of 2011 at our church. As Clerk, it was my duty to organize the traditional class farewell, so with the help of our brilliant organist, Kathryn White, I composed a farewell song for the class set to the tune of one of my favorite hymns, "For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest." 

I'm sharing the song with all my Gentle Readers, complete with footnotes that explain the insider references. Picture twenty elders singing it and on the refrain, randomly wandering around the front of the room!

For All The Elders

This class of elders now our labors rest.
Relief and joy, we must now confess.
We hand off our duties, hope we've done our best!
In decent order, we sing our farewell song.*

Three years ago when we were all installed
To serve the church, each one of us was called.
With energy and hope we were enthralled.
In decent order, we sing our farewell song.

Dollar for Dollar* kept us on our toes,
Its counting brought us many highs and lows.
But to the challenge everyone arose!
In decent order, we sing our farewell song.

In twenty ten--well, now what can we say?
Big changes were adopted by GA,
P-C-U-S-A is now in disarray.
In decent order, we sing our farewell song.

In these three years, we've seen exciting change.
Fuente* to Next Gen Minister* they range.
We even survived the crazy stock exchange!
In decent order, we sing our farewell song.

The Fellowship brought us a great surprise!
Our Dave became a "dwarf" before our eyes.*
Who knew anyone could cut him down to size?*
In decent order, we sing our farewell song.

And to our fellow elders now we bring,
Our prayers and blessings as an offering.
In decent order, let us together sing
Al-le-lu-ia, Al-le-lu-ia!
Al-le-lu-ia, Al-le-lu-ia!

* We Presbyterians like to do things "decently and in order."

* Dollar for Dollar is one of the founding principles of MDPC. For every dollar we spend on operating expenses, we contribute a dollar to partners in mission outside of the church. Last year that meant over $5 million was spent in mission.

* Fuente is our Hispanic ministry. There are now about 120 people attending our Spanish language service.

* Next Gen Minister heads up our Next Generation Ministry to twenty and thirty-somethings. It's growing fast!

* Dave Peterson, our Senior Pastor, is one of the organizers of The Fellowship. The group is called "the 7 dwarfs".

* Dave is VERY tall.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sing Them All!

Today I'm inspired by a post at RevGals: Those Stanzas Nobody Knows. Like the writer of that post, I'm  disappointed when we only get to sing a couple of stanzas of hymns and carols because often the text of the lesser known stanzas carry the most meaning. As far as I'm concerned, the more congregational singing the better!

Here are my favorite verses from familiar Christmas Carols often omitted in worship that I wish were included.

From O Come, O Come Emmanuel:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

From Once In Royal David's City:

Not in that poor lowly stable
With the oxen standing by
We shall see him but in heaven
Set at God's right hand on high
Where like stars his children crowned
All in white shall wait around

From O Little Town of Bethlehem:

Where children pure and happy
Pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to thee,
Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching
And faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.

From O Come All Ye Faithful:

Child, for us sinners
Poor and in the manger,
We would embrace thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love thee,
Loving us so dearly?

From Joy To The World:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

From O Holy Night:

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wise men from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend

Gentle Readers, what are your favorite carol or hymn verses that nobody knows?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Book Review: The Christmas Cantata by Mark Schweizer

Longer than a short story, shorter than a book, The Christmas Cantata is the latest in the Liturgical Mystery series by Mark Schweizer.  It is also quite different from the other books
( The Alto Wore Tweed, The Tenor Wore Tapshoes, The Organist Wore Pumps, etc) because the plot involves a literary mystery rather than a murder mystery and does not feature Schweizer's trademark hilarious takeoffs on Raymond Chandler's writing style. I read it on my Kindle (for only $2.99) and loved it.
The story is set in St. Germaine and features the familiar characters of the series: Police Chief/Choirmaster-Organist Hayden Konig and his wife Meg, erstwhile Mayor Pete Moss, Pauli-Girl, Noylene  Faberge'-DuPont, and all the usual suspects.

Searching for a new musical offering for the Christmas services at St. Barnabus, Konig finds the score of The Christmas Cantata and begins searching for its composer and the story behind it.
Instead of weaving his usual Chandler parodies into the plot, Schweizer creates a backstory that is well integrated into the narrative. Even though I sensed where the story was going towards the end I found myself tearing up (in a good way!) at the conclusion.
The Christmas Cantata is a classic that anyone could enjoy!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Osteen Reality TV

Are you ready for the Osteen Reality Show? Seriously. 

I'm not making this up. Apparently Lakewood Church co-pastors Joel and Victoria are besties with the producer of the CBS reality show Survivor and they are in discussions now to produce a new reality series about the Osteens and their mission trips around the country with Lakewood members. See the story in the Houston paper here.

So. The mind boggles. Mission trips as reality fare? What kind of faux drama will the producer want to inject into the show to boost ratings? Will there be competing teams? Prizes? Nefarious skullduggery? What will the show be called.

Stay tuned. As your humble chronicler of Houston Religious Oddities I promise to stay on top of the story.