Thanksgiving and Prayer

Thanksgiving is an inevitable accompaniment of vital prayer. The purpose is not to manipulate God into thinking we are grateful and that he should therefore give us more. That unfortunate idea is quite ridiculous, of course, and yet many people toy with it or even try to put it into practice. Nevertheless, prayer in the manner of Jesus will have incredible results, and thanksgiving will be a constant theme just because that is the reality of our relationship with God. Thanksgiving goes hand in hand with praise. We are thankful when we know we are living under the provisions of his bountiful hand. [see Philippians 4:6]


Content To Live Without…

My fear is not that our great movement, known as the Methodists, will eventually cease to exist or one day die from the earth. My fear is that our people will become content to live without the fire, the power, the excitement, the supernatural element that makes us great.

John Wesley


A Random Act of Culture

In case you haven’t seen this, I’m posting it here.  I have seen several links on Facebook and several have sent me the link via email.

These events are not new [Sound of Music | Central Station Antwerp (Belgium)]

The video that I have embedded was shot at Macy’s in Philadelphia — It is in the former Wanamaker’s store (I remember that chain from my younger days.)   The pipe organ in the Grand Court of Macy’s is one of the largest playable pipe organs in the world.  One of the things that I like to do is look at the comments in YouTube.  It was really interesting to see the comments that were listed there — they ranged all over the place — from those who thought it was great (I would have to agree.)  Some thought it was too early for Christmas carols. (More on that in a second.) Some were appalled that sacred music would be played in a public space — this was just a small sampling and there were many opinions in between.

It is an excellent performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.  You can tell it is a big space and in big spaces like that sometimes it is tough to keep time and you can hear some of the give and take that happens during the performance.  Our high school band and chorus would use The Hallelujah Chorus as our finale during our annual Christmas concert.  When I was teaching at Schenectady Christian School, the high school chorus that I directed also used it as a finale and we invited alumni of the chorus to come and sing it with us.  It was always a great time.

I thought some of the comments were interesting.  Some of the commentators must have slept through Fine Arts or Music Appreciation in college, because they had know idea what they were talking about.  As a musical piece The Messiah is not a Christmas oratorio.  It is an oratorio of the life of Christ — from the prophecies through Christ’s resurrection and finally his return.  Again The Hallelujah Chorus is sung primarily at Christmas and as I was reminded several years ago, is not the final chorus in The Messiah. But that does not make it a Christmas carol.  It is appropriate to sing Hallelujah at any time.

The other comments that I thought were interesting were those that had difficulty with a sacred piece being sung in a public place.  Their argument was that since The Messiah is a sacred piece it should only be sung in sacred spaces.  While I am all for sacred spaces, sacred music does not have to be limited to those spaces.  If we go back to the era when this music was written, many composers wrote both sacred pieces and secular (for lack of a better word) pieces.  Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and others would be commissioned to write both.  We tend to forget that in our culture that has put up strict barriers between the two.  In fact, the writing of sacred pieces normally paid the bills so that they could be musicians (although some were also part of the royal court of musicians.)  Back in the Baroque and Classical eras the line was very fuzzy. What is interesting is that you can go to many classical concerts and still hear sacred pieces.  These pieces are works of art and deserved to be heard simply on that merit alone.  Just because they have a sacred text does not make them invalid.

Another point is that Macy’s can choose to do whatever it wants.  It may be a publicly held company, within reason they have the right to do whatever they want within their walls.  This was not in a public square or public place.  This was in a store.

One last comment and I’ll end my little rant 🙂  Some accused those who were singing of proselytizing or converting people to Christianity.  I haven’t quite figured that out.  How does singing Hallelujah equate you with being an evangelist. It is a beautiful piece of music. Let’s appreciate it for what it is. I’ve encountered music in various stores from time to time that does not match my worldview. I realize that not everyone agrees with my worldview and that is ok. I’ve gone into some stores and had a headache when I left from the music.  Some of those stores, I or Pam still shop in.

So there you go — I shared with you a beautiful piece of music shared by people who wanted to brighten up another person’s day.  As I think about it, that’s part of being the hands and feet of Jesus.  We need to love each other — Jesus told us we need to love our neighbor as ourself.  We need to bring a little cheer.  We need to bring a little kindness.  Pam mentioned on Sunday that God has blessed us so we need to go out and be a blessing.  Pastor Barry, in his sermon on Sunday said, one what we can say thanks is by serving others.  I thing that is what was happening here.  So….Go out and bless someone!

Quick Update

It was a beautiful fall afternoon – the temp was almost 70 and a great day for a run.  I was able to complete a relatively quick 3.05 miles in 32:28.  That was fast for me.  I love the fact that I can almost run 3 miles in less than a half an hour.  It used to take 45 minutes.  Pressing On!

The Monday Morning Routine

I don’t know why, but I feel inspired to write this morning.  I thought maybe I would share my thought process and walk you through a typical Monday morning.  It’s well documented that the worst day for pastors to take off is on Monday — this is true even if the day before went quite well — like it did yesterday at Parkway.  When we first arrived here at Parkway, I used to take Monday’s off, but it is so much better to come into the office and get a start on the week and save the rest for the end of the week.  It’s even more important to get a good start this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday.  We will have family here so, I’d like to reserve the end of the week for that.

One of the things I like to do on Mondays is just ease back into it.  That means do all the little things that need to get done — cleaning up the loose ends from Sunday.  For example — updating the church website ( for the current week, converting the CD audio to mp3 audio for the website.  In addition, there is putting away the music, filing an order of worship for reference and general cleanup.  There is also the task of beginning to think about the next week’s worship service — what songs we will sing — responsive reading or not — and the other things that go into putting a worship service together.  Usually during the morning the lead pastor and I recap the day before.  So there are lots of things that need to get done, but don’t require much thinking on my part.  I get into that later on in the week, or in the case of this week, later on today.  The more advanced thinking stuff gets relegated to later in the week.

Anyway, I like this new routine — it really works and gets me ready for the week.  Later!

Glorious Day

I wish I really had a concert video for this song.  Last night during choir practice we worked and worked and worked on this song.  The hard work paid off.  I love the arrangement we are singing with the choir.  It’s a little less rock and roll and a little more Brooklyn Tabernacle.  This is the Casting Crowns version on which our arrangement is based.  What a wonderful song that tells the gospel through music.  I also love the extra words that Mark Hall has added to this old gospel song.  Be blessed….

Sunday Night Thoughts

  • Today was a cool day all the way around.
  • Temp wise it was nice, we were in the high 50’s this afternoon.
  • We had a great Thanksgiving service this morning and the Holy Spirit guided us through a wonderful service.
  • The praise team did a great job on the songs.  I loved My Tribute at the end of the service.
  • The tech team did a great job with all of the extra elements in this morning’s service
  • The community bell choir which is based at our church, played during this morning’s service and I had a chance to play in the group.  They did a nice job as well.
  • Do you see the theme?  God was really working this morning.
  • It has been a great weekend.  We attended a beautiful wedding yesterday — and I had a chance to sing at it.  Congratulations to the happy couple.
  • Because of all of that, I was really tired and at first wasn’t really looking forward to choir practice tonight, but…
  • That changed as we gathered tonight.  Choir, you really outdid yourself tonight.  You worked hard — and sounded great.  I really enjoyed the way we worked through Glorious Day and it is really sounding like the song.  Thanks for all your hard work.
  • Here was an assignment from this morning’s service — My wife makes the best (the absolute best) Banana, Walnut, Chocolate Chip cookies.  The ladies at church loved them on Wednesday night.  I want to brag on her because I love her!  She is the best.
  • I’m hoping to watch at least a little bit of the big game (Giants vs. Eagles) tonight.  Whoever wins takes the top spot in the NFC East.
  • I am so thankful for my God and Savior and my beautiful family — Pam and the kids and my mom and dad who taught me well.  God is Good!

Seize the Day!

Sunday Set List

November 21, 2010
Reign of Christ Sunday

Welcome and Announcements

Introit – Mountain Ridge Ringers

Celebration – Jason Krug

Call to Worship and Invocation

A Song of Thanksgiving- Responsive Reading

Song of Worship

We Gather Together

Video – What is Thanksgiving

Songs of Worship


Made Me Glad

Testimonies of Thanksgiving

Responsive Reading

Beauty and Abundance

Prayer Song

Give Thanks

Worship Through Prayer

Children’s Sermon

Worship Through Giving

Special Music – Mountain Ridge Ringers

With Great Joy – Geschke

Worship Through God’s Word

How Can I Say Thanks

I Chronicles 29:10-19

Song of Praise

My Tribute


A Comeback Run

It was good to run and run well again today.  I think my body is readjusting to running after a week off.  It also helped that I went back to my new running shoes.  On Wednesday, I ran in my older running shoes and the cushioning may be wearing out in those.  The goal was to run for 5 miles or an hour, whichever was longer.  I made the one hour mark and was able to run 5.56 miles in 1:00:11.  This came out to an 10:49/minute pace.  This would be a personal best for this distance.  I am very please with this afternoon’s run.  While I am getting faster, most people still pass me.  It happened again today — In running terms, I got chicked.  Only male runners can get chicked and that means that a female runner passed you.   Again to put a positive spin on this — the pace that I ran today was about as fast as I have ever run over a one hour period, so I am getting faster — slowly but surely — and in the case of the tortoise and the hare — slow and steady wins the race.  Pressing On!

Lectionary Readings

Reign of Christ
November 21, 2010

This Sunday is the last Sunday of the church year.  Here in America, it usually coincides with the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  This Sunday reminds us that Christ is coming again and that he will be setting up a Kingdom that reigns forever.  It is the bridge Sunday between the end of the previous year and the beginning of Advent, which begins next Sunday.
“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord.2 Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them. 3 But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord have spoken!

5 “For the time is coming,”
says the Lord,
“when I will raise up a righteous descendant
from King David’s line.
He will be a King who rules with wisdom.
He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
6 And this will be his name:
‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’
In that day Judah will be saved,
and Israel will live in safety.