The Close of Summer

Summer officially came to a close with our church picnic on Sunday, August 28th.  We packed a lot into the day as it was “Bring a friend to church” Sunday as well as “Favorite Hymn Sing” Sunday.  It was pleasing to see new and different faces in the sanctuary.  Parishioners invited family members, neighbors, and other church members who had not attended in quite some time.  We had been promoting this day for over a month and many followed through with the inviting.

Instead of the usual sermon on one of the Scripture readings, we chose the four most requested hymns and spent time giving the explanation of their origin.  We then sang two stanzas of each hymn.  Based on the comments received afterwards, it gave people a new perspective on hymns they had been singing for years.  We interspersed other choices throughout the liturgy, but the four most requested and thus featured in our “sermon” were:  Borning Cry; Lead Me, Guide Me; Abide With Me; and Amazing Grace. 

Although I had seen other pastors do this before in a variety of ways, I had never tried it.  So it was a risk on my part.  But I felt confident that the congregation would appreciate the different approach and my instincts were correct.  I also learned much in doing the research.

The picnic was a foodfest.  The image of Isaiah 25:6 came to mind.  “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food…”  There is nothing so massive as a Lutheran potluck in which nearly everyone brings a covered dish.  There were several assortments of salads, baked beans, and desserts.  But the highlight was the barbecued chicken cooked outdoors on a grill by one of our parishioners.  It was delicious!

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An event like this doesn’t happen by itself.  Many others put in a lot of hours beforehand setting up tables and chairs outdoors and then taking them down afterwards.  It is wonderful when a group of people come together for a purpose.  It echoes Psalm 133:  “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!”

Published by pastorallende

Retired Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Social justice and immigration reform advocate. Micah 6:8. Fluent in English and Spanish. I enjoy music and sports.

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