Upward and onward
I went to a funeral this weekend. It was at the church where I grew up and it was filled with a familiar crowd of people. The man who died was the father of four, all classmates of mine, the OM and my dual personality. There were 14 grandchildren and one great-grandchild–a fine, handsome family–good people.
It was the Rite I version of the Episcopal service without communion and included three hymns, one being “Once to Every Man and Nation” which I had not sung in a long time.
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.
By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
Old James Russell Lowell–I gotta love you.
But I bet the clergy were cringing. This hymn is not even in our hymnal any more. It was printed in the leaflet. As I recall we used to sing it occasionally at my school–it was in that hymnal. Well, time makes ancient good uncouth…
Back at church on Sunday I was heartened to hear our rector give a sermon on the Gospel, which was Matthew 16:13-20, where Jesus asks Peter “Who do you say that I am?” For once, Peter gets it right: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” The rector talked about how many professing Christians are really atheists who do not live their beliefs or actually walk the walk. But the bottom line, which he did not address, is that many Christians, including many members of the clergy, don’t seem to believe in anything anymore. You know, it’s all just a nice story. Jesus was just a social reformer trying to create a just society. They love “the symbolism of the Resurrection.” And as one
fatuous misguided intern wrote in our diocesan newspaper, our “religion is just about being in one big love affair with God and Creation.” Ugh.
Well, it was good to be back in the pew after a few weeks off and it was fun to see the families and little kids back at church. We had ice cream to celebrate.
And our organist/choirmaster took the ALS challenge and was doused with ice water after church. Oh boy.
True summer weather (finally) descended on us last week with temperatures pushing 100 and the heat index out of sight. But summer is coming to an end…Labor Day is a week from today! Good grief, Charlie Brown. Our (relatively) lazy days are getting busier and busier.
Can autumn be far behind?
Tout va bien.