Tag Archives: sunday sermon

When the Sparrow Sang at Church

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

Mother was always busy on Saturdays getting her Sunday School opening service ready.   This occurred about the first 20 minutes on Sunday Morning for the whole congregation but especially the children.  Afterward, everyone would proceed to their individual classes.  She would be highly focused, making posters with art pens and paints or something else to help illustrate the point she wanted to make.

One time she discovered a woman in the church who whistled beautifully and could make lovely bird calls.  A plan developed.  Next Sunday a soloist would sing the song “His Eye is On the Sparrow,” and the whistler would add beautiful bird sounds above her singing voice.   The whistler would be at a microphone back behind the platform out of sight.   A ‘sparrow’ created by Mother would be brought in to sit beside the soloist and appear to be the one whistling.

When the time came, Mother explained to the congregation that the sparrow itself was going to be heard from this morning at church.   While the soloist would sing, the sparrow would be accompanying her.

Mother covered me in a costume of crepe paper and dressed me up as a sparrow with wings and a bill and everything.  I could see out where they cut holes for my eyes.  I was perched on a little dolly.  Someone pulled me out across the platform beside the soloist.  When the whistling behind stage began, I moved my head as if the sparrow itself was doing the whistling.

The children were spellbound.  The adults already knew the words to that song and were were smiling at this unusual demonstration.  But they were also very moved at this beautiful musical reminder that, yes, our God is the one who sees us and knows us intimately. . . and loves us more than we can really comprehend, and we can rest assured he will take care of us at all times.

People outside of our area noted Mother’s opening services on Sunday mornings, because some years later, she was asked to repeat the sparrow event for the national Sunday School Convention in Springfield, Missouri.  Again I was dressed up as the sparrow, and again people responded, as they were reassured that we have a God who sees us, loves us, and watches over us.

A Hymn to Help

This song has helped so many people so many times.  It has been sung by the famous Ethel Waters and George Beverly Shea.  No doubt it has been hummed in many homes and remembered tearfully through many struggles.  It has backing in the scriptures and is stated so beautifully in Matthew 10 and Matthew 6.

     Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside     your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

     Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  

Mississippi Children’s Choir link below, singing “His Eye is On the Sparrow.”

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uatCU8QzdyA

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

 Refrain:

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,

For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,

When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Image

 Here is a picture of our Mother today.

Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com.  Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniments for congregations, small groups and individuals.

The Christian Athiest

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

Yes, I was in a tiff.

These things happen in life.  But very soon,  I realized that I was holding on to this perceived indignity and not wanting to give it up.

Ah. . . but then, the next morning was Sunday.   In the sermon the minister mentions the book The Christian Atheist and recommends it.  According to the author, Craig Groeschel, there are people who are Christians but act as atheists…ones who don’t believe the teachings of Jesus.  (I recognize myself there at times.)  We don’t live up to our own standards, and all of us Christians are hypocrites at some time or another.  This causes severe damage to others when they see our failures and they had expected so much more of us.

Lord please help me, help me.  I feel hopelessly unable to drop this resentment.

A Hymn to Help

Then the song came crowding into my mind, “Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace” by Olive Dungan  That is the prayer of Saint Francis.  I realize the huge block that I have at this time in being any kind of instrument of peace.  So I continued through the words in my mind:

Where there is hatred, let me sow Love,. . .  But I really don’t want to, Lord.

Where there is injury, pardon,. . . I need to pardon. You pardon Me constantly, Jesus.

Where there is doubt, faith,. . . Where is my faith in your Way, Lord?

Where there is distress, hope,. . . Hope.  This needs to be in my thinking.

Where there is darkness, light. . .  It’s heaviness and darkness now.

Where there is sadness, joy,. . . I am sad.

Oh divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console, . . .Yes, Lord, all I am thinking is me me me and my need to be consoled.

To be understood as to understand, . . . It is my ego, my pride, and my desire to control certain things that make me angry.  Shall I now put myself in the other person’s place and try to understand another point of view?  OK.  Think back.  This person is capable of a lot of thoughtful actions — remember? 

To be loved as to love,. . .  Shall I love right now rather than focusing on Me? 

For it is in giving that we receive, . . .  Well, I know that is true.  (I feel my heart softening.)

It is is pardoning that we are pardoned,. . . Oh Yes, important point!

It is in dying that we are BORN to eternal life! . . . Big sigh, uh huh.  

So it was this song that helped so much.  The words of the song served to remind me of what I wanted to say as I confessed my wrongs, along with points from the sermon I heard.  I don’t live up to my own standards, even though I want to.

It is easy to confess my wrongs to God, but what about the person with whom I had the disagreement.  That was surprisingly easy as well, after I had gotten myself turned around.  One couldn’t help but notice the fragile but subdued peace that settled down after my sorrowful confession.  It felt good.

out0123

If you want to listen to the song, there is an absolutely heavenly interpretation of it that I bought on iTunes some time ago sung by Annet Nakamoto.  It is worth far more than the 99 cents, but I don’t know how one would share it on a blog like this.    If you want to listen to a bit of it, the title is “Eternal Life” by Olive Dungan sung by Annet Nakamoto.

http://www.amazon.com/1-Pearls-Sacred-Music-Annet-Nakamoto/dp/B000FTKRYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1368110652&sr=1-1

This rendition I can share is excellent and sung by a guest of Diane Bish, the organist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo3mm7jPsLk

By the way, I have now read The Christian Atheist and it is a great read.  It is available on Amazon, but I got it from the public library.  The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist by Craig Groeschel (Author).

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com.  Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniments for congregations, small groups and individuals.

HymnServe.com – Saturday at the White Castle

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

What a welcome the weekend was. 

We were both exhausted and weary from the past week.  What made us go downtown by the capitol in Richmond so early on a Saturday morning, I don’t remember.  But there we were, having parked and walking around with some welcome free time to do whatever we wanted.   Then we saw the White Castle and said, “Let’s get some breakfast.”

We went in and sat on stools at two of the few counter places in the little cafe.  Nobody else was in there.  An older African American woman took our order.  She has gotten up so early this morning and is running the place by herself, I thought.   As she fried the bacon and carefully put the eggs on the griddle, we sat quietly and watched.

Above the sound of the blower above the griddle, I could faintly hear her humming.  I believe it was a hymn that was very familiar to me.  Whatever it was about the moment, it got my full attention, and she spoke to me a sermon that rivaled any Sunday sermon I ever heard.  It got right into my heart.  I marveled at her peace and contentment at her work.  It pointed up my own attitude so many times about ‘work.‘  It was compared to my lack of enthusiasm about the common everyday tasks of a mother and wife that were part of my life.   As she placed the plates in front of us and we began to eat, I felt humbled by her kind service to me.

That has been years ago now, but it is stamped in the memory, because it made me want to be more like her.  Lord, make me to be more thankful, grateful, content, and kinder in the work that you have given me to do.

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.