For Mardi Gras Sunday, there was a jazz band (which always makes me think of Valentine) up front, and of one of the performers she asked, "Is he here all the time?" "Yes, he belongs to the church," Mrs. MacLeay responded. I knew what she meant, of course, but the phrasing was jarring and got me thinking about sk8eeyore's talk about being claimed by a church.
The band played "St. James Infirmary" since apparently it's traditional to begin Mardi Gras with a sad song.
Responsive Call to Worship:
O God, you have searched us and known us.
You know us when we sit down and when we rise up;
You know us when we worship and pray, and praise and serve;
You know our thoughts from far away --
You know our hopes and dreams, our worries and fears.
You hear our laughter,
You taste our tears,
Will you walk with us today, O God?
Lord, please walk with us today!
Processional Hymn: "Just A Closer Walk With Thee"
The refrain was in italics on the fourth line after three verses, so there were a lot of people singing the second verse during the first time that the refrain was sung. Come the third verse, the band cut out (the pastor had stated earlier that the congregation really needed to sing, 'cause otherwise it was just a bunch of white-shirted guys playing music)
He did the Prayer of Invocation and then skipped the Gloria Patri.
Before the Unison Prayer of Confession, the pastor said that it being Mardi Gras Sunday we don't wanna use the word "sin" today, that it is a strange word to use today.
God of grace and mercy, you have called us "beloved," but we have refused to believe it. You have called us to follow, but we have dragged our feet. You give us the promise of your gracious presence, but we forget to look for you until we're backed into a corner. You are all the strength we need, but we exhaust ourselves trying to be in charge. Deliver us from our self-absorption, O God. Mend our broken hearts and defeated spirits, and teach us how to be your faithful disciples. In Jesus' name. Amen.
In the Assurance of Pardon, the pastor said that Lent is a time of self-reflection, self-discipline, and repentance. He said that the word "repent" means return to the right road, which I'll have to ask him about when we meet on Thursday because I don't see that in the dictionaries.
After the Children's Time was over, they kept the costumed children up to select a Mardi Gras king and queen. The pastor did the selection by applause (having the audience applaud as he passed his hand over each of the kids) and one of the boys didn't get a huge amount of applause and gestured with his hand like "C'mon, more, c'mon."
Scripture: Genesis 18:1-15
Reading along, I was struck that it was immediately followed by the story of Abraham bargaining with God over Sodom.
Message: "And Sarah Laughed"
It was mentioned that there are only about ten mentions of laughter in the whole Bible and about 5 of them are with Sarah.
The pastor also talked about how laughter undermines authority and how it's particularly remarkable that it's a woman questioning God. And he did mention how the next story is of Abraham bargaining with God (in the context of talking about the God of the Bible seems rather inconsistent, which discomfited me, much though I love Joel's conception of "God on a learning curve").
Preparation for Prayer: "This Little Light of Mine"
Pastoral Prayer, Lord's Prayer (debtors), Invitation to Offering
Listed was "I'll Fly Away" (which always makes me think of O Brother, Where Art Thou?) but actually the pastor did "It Is Well In My Soul."
Afterward when the offering was to be brought up he said something like "Times like this you really miss [the orgainist]" and said we could hum if we wanted to. What, we can't sing the Doxology without an organ? Mrs. MacLeay and I were a bit thrown by this.
Prayer of Dedication
Recessional Hymn: "When The Saints Go Marching In"
Passing of the Peace
Postlude: "Saints" Reprise
However, after the Prayer of Dedication the pastor said we could depart as we wished during the song. People mostly stuck around until the end, though.
[version: "O when the saints go marching in / O when the sun refused to shine / O when they crown him Lord of all . . . O Lord I want to be in that number"]
[Edit: Interesting choice for a celebratory end hymn, since despite its celebratory nature it's very much about death -- insomuch as it's about the afterlife.]
Look at us go, being so traditional. We had pancakes with my grandma this afternoon. I learned that even my mother's sourdough pancakes don't taste so good when they're thick.