All That We Offer

With the arrival of another Sunday, I dressed in my Sunday best and headed to office, but the first stop I had to make, was to deliver a good handful of cucumbers to a friend of mine whom I know enjoys them about as much as I do. When noticing how fast those British cucumbers are growing, I don’t think I’d be able to eat enough of them to stay ahead of their growth. The gift was well received, and along with a promise of more deliveries. The pickle cucumbers are growing much slower, so when they kick-in, I’ll be doing some dill pickling.

When I arrived at office, I promptly proceeded to my quiet corner to get my contemplative prayer session completed. Several evil-minded people whom I’d recently encountered had come to mind while there, so I went ahead and forgave them, wished them the absolute best, along with the hope that they’ll stay as far away from me as possible…but no farther.

Knowing I had a double-header of church Services this morning, I proceeded to get some additional practicing done before I headed over to St. Paul Lutheran, and shortly after I arrived, the visiting minister showed up, along with one of today’s lectors. I soulfully mentioned that I wouldn’t be playing any postlude music because I had to be over to First Baptist Church just as quickly as I could get there after I played their recessional hymn. The pastor looked at what was scheduled for him and announced he’d do everything he could to get me out on time.

I would say the entire Service went very well, along with the music I played. Truth be told, I’d say today’s organ playing was about the best I’ve done thus far when playing their vintage organ. It was one more personal assurance that I’ve finally grown accustomed to the old girl to where she doesn’t make me nervous in the least bit. Oh how I remember the many times I’d stumbled when I first began playing for them, and most of the time, those mistakes were made on its pedalboard. I’m sure any organ technician would look at that board and say, “Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen pedals wore down that much.” Yes, they are noticeably worn. Can you imagine how many years of use it took to get them in that condition?

When looking at the clock upon arrival at First Baptist Church, I noticed I had about seven minutes to play something for them, so I picked that grand Handel piece “Largo” which isn’t so terribly long, but rich in chords and movement. When I finished, one of their members stood up in front of me and gave me a big smile with clenched fists which most certainly must’ve been meant as a compliment. I played one more piece which was just enough before their Service began.

They have a pianist who plays on a regular basis, so she was the one who played all the other music except for the Offertory which I was to play on the organ as an accompaniment for their song leader. Their Pastor requested I play it alone until all the offerings were made, and then the song leader would stand next to the organ while I play all three versus of “All That We Have”. It actually went much better than I’d expected, and after it was over, their Congregation began clapping. Yes, the combination of the rich tones of their organ and the charming voice their song leader possesses, made for quiet the memorable duet. I have a feeling they’re going to ask me over again to play something with him as the soloist.

If you have time, look up “All That We Have” on YouTube, and if you find it, pay very close attention to the words because they’re very appropriate for any church’s Offertory. The repeating refrain is, “All that we have, and all that we offer, come from a heart both frightened and free. Take what we bring now, and give what we need. All done in His name.”, and then there are three following versus which are also moving. I’m sure if you listen to it, you’ll like it as much as I do.

I was very much touched by the number of people who’d come up to me after their Service was over and thanking me for playing for their 150th Anniversary. Before walking out, I went up to their song leader and congratulated him on the good job he did with his solo. Of course several of them insisted I stop back after the hour of two where they were having a public open house in the basement of their church, which I agreed to do.

It was almost the hour of Noon when I walked out, and certainly feeling it because I’d been on and off a keyboard since the hour of eight this morning. Not be be complaining because I was very thankful there were no hiccups with the music at either church.

I drove directly back to office and putzed around until it was time to head back over to First Baptist’s open house. When I got there, one of the people who’d attended their Service, came up to me and thanked me for playing their organ today, which I dismissed as nothing extra special on my part.

I went downstairs and looked at all of the old black and white photos they had of their church and pastors in chronological order which I found quite interesting. They were also serving treats, punch and coffee, along with specially made cupcakes. The Pastor and three other members were up on a small stage singing along to live guitar music. I spent about a half hour visiting with several people I knew, and then headed home.

The remainder of my afternoon was spent weeding and adding mulch to those three year old Red and Burr Oak trees which’ll be transplanted this Fall. Boy, that was a hot chore.

Tonight’s One-liner is: A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.

Joe Chodur

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