This week the church holds its annual meeting after a shortened service, so the choir will sing one anthem, “I want to live so God can use me,” by Alice Parker. This anthem is one part of a larger, multi-movement work, A Sermon from the Mountain, written as a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The piece was commissioned by the Franconia Mennonite Chorus in April 1968, just days after Dr. King was assassinated. The Sermon takes the form of a worship service, in which several spirituals are sung by the congregation (represented by the choir) in response to Biblical passages (sung by a soloist) and readings from Dr. King’s sermons and writings.
A Children’s Sermon
I found something lying around outside Westminster Presbyterian Church. Take a look. It’s a piece of the Beta Bridge–that colorful-message-painted bridge out on Rugby Road, the bridge that crosses over the train tracks right outside our front door. It’s not a piece of concrete. It’s actually layers and layers of hardened paint that finally, after cold and heat and weather, just fell off the bridge. Look how thick it is. If you think about it, this piece of petrified paint contains fragments of so many painted messages. It’s a piece of history, from the past to the present. Who knows? Maybe the bottom layer goes all the way back to 1969 when they speculate someone first painted a message on the bridge. And wouldn’t it be interesting if you could peel away all the layers of paint on the Beta Bridge and read all those messages painted throughout the years? And did you know, that if you want to enroll at the University of Virginia, as part of your application process, you have the option to write the following 250 word essay? “What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?” Applying freshmen write essays about how they would express themselves through paint!
How about this place? What about Westminster Presbyterian Church? Under layers of sermons and vision statements, under layers of session meeting discussions and annual meetings, under layers and layers of causes and human need and spiritual hunger, if we took time to peel away all these layers– all the words, all the speeches, all the good intentions–what would this church’s message be to the world? To Charlottesville? To anyone passing by?
So, I have an assignment for you: I invite you to begin painting your message. Take a piece of paper and some crayons or paint, and become an artist. Make it beautiful. Make it colorful. But most of all, paint the message you desire to share with the world.
Jesus once said to a crowd of people sitting on the ground “Let your light shine before people, so that all can see the good things you do and praise God who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) What is your message?
Worship will be shortened to allow time for the Congregation’s Annual Meeting; childcare will be available for infants through Pre-K. Items of business will include: hearing a report on the 2018 budget; election of three Trustees; approval of Pastors’ Terms of Call and receiving division reports for 2017. An additional congregational meeting will be scheduled in the spring to elect elders and deacons, etc. The Fellowship Committee will provide soup and beverage. Please bring bread, cheese, or fruit to share. Please join us for information, food and fellowship!
This week a quartet of singers will sing two anthems during the service, “Even Here” by Mark Miller and “The Call” by Suzanne Toolan. Mark Miller is an African-American composer and musician, and teaches at the Drew Theological School and at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. He is particularly concerned with justice and inclusion both within and outside the church. Sister Suzanne Toolan serves as resident liturgist at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California.
In case of snow, sleet, or freezing rain, we will air any cancellation on local radio and TV stations. Bear in mind that there are Westminster Presbyterian Churches in many other cities—including Waynesboro, Lynchburg, and Richmond. Please be sure you hear the announcement for Westminster in Charlottesville.
In addition, our website will have up-to-date information: www.westminsterva.org. Any weather-related changes to the worship schedule or other activities will be posted on the main page of our website.
The church’s voicemail message will also announce any cancellations due to inclement weather. People who have specific responsibilities—like church school teachers, ushers, musicians, sound system engineers—should check one of the above resources if there is inclement weather.
We hope we won’t be having inclement weather on Sundays, but please keep this information in mind if bad weather comes our way on the weekend.