Sunday, October 6, 2013

Many the Gifts

...for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.      ~ Galatians 3:26-28

Today at the traditional services at church we celebrated World Communion Sunday. This minor holiday was founded as World-wide Communion Sunday by Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr at Shadyside Presbyterian church outside Pittsburgh in 1933. DH and I visited it with the choir director from our church during a worship arts conference in July of this year. (I keep meaning to blog about that!) Here is the large circular plaque on the floor behind the altar commemorating the event.

The creative worship committee I chair put a lot of work into this service. SO and MD designed the altar decorations in North Sanctuary to represent our connectedness with Christians through time and space through the taking of communion. There are the usual bunches of plastic grapes and loaves of preserved bread (painted with lacquer over a decade ago!). The textiles on the altar are an embroidered suzani from Tajikistan and a small quilted piece by a former member of the church. But my favorite part is the "globe" of children cut out of old maps, not least because its shape mirrors the medallions on the large cloth.

I choreographed a dance for the first hymn, "One Bread, One Body." During the Children's Message, I taught the arm movements for the chorus to the kids/ congregation. Then, the choir led the singing while the three dancers led the dancing from the chancel. There were three themes to this morning's piece:

1) We danced in a triangle to reflect the Trinity. During each verse, we moved two spots along the line of the dance, such that a different dancer was in front for each chorus.

2) Twice in the chorus the arms made a circle ("the earth"), and once we spun this globe over our shoulders, like Atlas.

3) We have a fledgling Deaf Ministry, so I like to incorporate American Sign Language into my dances. For this one we used "Lord," "cup," and the open "5-hand" from "blessing."

Big thanks to the talented dancers
who joined me: RA and JL!
One bread, one body,
one Lord of all,
one cup of blessing, which we bless.
And we though many
throughout the earth
we are one body in this one Lord.

Gentile or Jew, servant or free,
woman or man, no more!

Many the gifts,
many the works,
one in the Lord of all!

Grain for the fields, 
scattered and grown,
gathered to one, for all!

It was really wonderful to look out at the congregation and see at least a third of them dancing along from their pews! For the anthem later, the choir sang a setting of Psalm 150 by Brazilian composer Emani Aguiar. AH had the clever idea of replacing the usual communion wafers with pieces of rice-, corn-, and wheat-based breads to represent the "loaves" that are used in other parts of the world. Finally, while the congregation partook, Dear Husband played a piece entitled simply "Communion," by Lithuanian organist and composer Vidas Pinkevičius.

p.s.--The beautiful rainbow silk stole I am wearing was custom made for me by Jeff Wunrow, a liturgical artist I met at that Pittsburgh conference. I splurged on it with birthday "mad money" from my parents-in-law, so thanks to him and them as well!

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