Stradivarius, with his two sons, made wonderful violins, violas and cellos in their Italian workshop in Cremona 300 years ago, instruments much appreciated to this day. I once read a probably apocryphal story that when Stradivarius went out to select wood for his instruments, he chose the part of the tree that had faced north. That was the the side which had known the buffeting of wind and weather, and had been brought through it. Stradivarius believed that that side of the tree produced the most sincere and beautiful music. Alternatively but similarly Wikipedia notes that recent studies suggest that the wonderful sound of his violins is due to an extreme density was the result of slow growth during the harsh conditions of the Little Ice Age in Europe between 1645-1750.
Either way, might it also be somewhat similar with our lives? Do we not often find that people whose lives have been touched by hardship and sadness, who have been most aware of the reality of the human condition, seem also to be the ones who live with great sensitivity and strength?
This morning we gather to begin another week of grace in the worship God, and will focus upon the great 103rd Psalm. The song acknowledges the hard dimensions of life … the brokenness and the fragility of humanity, ‘sins’, ‘inquiries’, ‘transgressions’ and ultimately ‘as for mortals, their days are like grass’ … but does so in the larger context of God’s promises and power, beginning and ending with the song ‘Bless the Lord’.
We will be join in singing ‘Praise my soul the king of heaven’ based on Psalm 103 with its wonderful words ‘ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore his praises sing’, and the sermon will conclude with the Scottish metrical version of 1650 ‘O thou my soul, bless God the Lord, and all that is within me be stirred up his holy name to magnify and bless’.
Look to the Rock …
(A heart-shaped rock placed along the shore of the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha where it is said the risen Jesus asked Peter ‘Do you love me?’)
This morning begins with Kirsten and Gordon Stewart piping on the corner of Princess and Clergy, a call to worship with favourite hymn tunes.
We continue with an hour of prayer and praise led by Michael Putnam – the sermon is entitled ‘Look to the rock …’ based on Isaiah 51:1-11 and Matthew 16:13-20. And we will lift up our souls with the words and music of some wonderful hymns … A Mighty Fortress Is Our God; Your Hand, O God, Has Guided; O God our Help in Ages Past; Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation.
Michael is a Candidate for ministry in the United Church of Canada, who has obtained his Master of Divinity Degree from Queen’s University and will now complete a two year internship in a pastoral charge before ordination. Michael is the grandson of the Rev. Dr. Max Putnam, a long time (1958-1976) and beloved minister of St. Andrew’s.
We will conclude with a responsive commissioning ….
Let us go into the world in strength and vulnerability that we may reflect the light of God’s love.
We will model light and love.
The Lord bless and keep us strong and of good courage as we continue on our life’s journey.
May we be both blest and a blessing this week. Amen