My mom told me about talking to Joe F. recently and how he commented on my responses to his columns saying, "It's like an autopsy." That is the best description of my detail-oriented critical approach to texts that I have ever heard. And recalling it will fill me with delight for at least a week I expect.
We got there and both wondered if Joe&Carol would be there as attendees. I noticed he was actually listed in the program as MC and then my mom saw him sitting in a front row. He came over and asked, "How'd you hear about this?" Hi, Joe, you've mentioned this at the last one if not two Singspirations.
In his Welcome, Joe said, "may hearts be touched and You be glorified." I really like that succinct explanation of what a worship service should be.
The first couple songs (Fellowship Church of God Youth Choir) were so energetic I knew Singspiration this Friday was gonna be disappointingly low-key.
I was also thinking about how these kids are growing up in an environment that tells them God is love and joy and energy and wondering what that does for one's adult Christianity, for how one takes one's Christianity with one out into the world.
They also had a Greeting from the Mayor (Medford performance yesterday, Somerville today). This discomfited me since I like my church and state fairly separate, though I hadn't realized this program was being done as part of Black History Month and had gotten a couple arts council grants.
The mayor said something about "this is my history, too," and hi, he's Italian, which is basically white nowadays, so I was concerned, but he did a decent save with talking about shared histories and the role African-Americans have played in development of this country from the very beginning (first American flag raised on January 1, 1776, in Prospect Hill) and I liked the phrase "old immigrant and new immigrant" (though on reflection it elides those who came to this country not as voluntary immigrants).
The song "Joy" (words and music by Kirk Franklin) has the line "The Master's joy," and I knew it meant Master as God but it was still a little weird hearing it in a Black American community.
Hymns also included:
"I Shall Not Be Moved"
"Wade in the Water"
"We Shall Overcome"
The hymn "Haleluya Pelo Tsa Rona" has the line, "Jesus says to us still: All who do the Lord's will are my sisters and brothers," and I couldn't help thinking of the discussion in The Man Jesus Loved on Jesus and chosen family.
Joe F.: "Stacie asked me to do this, not because I'm interesting, but because the choir needs a break."
He talked about how the "fire in my bones (cf. Jeremiah) is passivity in the church."
"Paul says if our gospel is hid, it is hid to the lost." (I looked it up and that's 2 Cor. 4:3.) I was worried he was going to say stuff that would upset me.
"Someone once said they'd rather see a sermon than hear one. I wish they saw more sermons in us."
"Some people say we're losing the cultural battle. I don't think we're losing it. I think we're forfeiting it." At this point I was really worried.
He said someone once said you can't separate the saving gospel of Jesus from the social gospel of Jesus.
He said that Martin Luther King Jr. is one of his heroes, though you shouldn't try to give one of his speeches unless you're James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman :) Instead he read a few sections from the famous letter MLK wrote in the Birmingham jail when a number of fellow members of the cloth were stating publically that he was wrong.
"In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love."He talked about an incident in Dorchester a few years ago and how he called up the pastor who was gonna do the funeral and mentioned that people were likely to ask, "Where was God when your friend needed Him?" and the pastor said was that to blame God is to not engage with the issues.
"So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Par from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are."
He also talked about when Temple Beth David in Westwood burned down -- which I have no memory of. He talked about the importance of the Torah to a synagogue and how that temple had a 150 year old Torah from Prague, how it had survived the Nazis and everything, "only to be destroyed by some fool with a match in Westwood."
[Here I think he was talking about what the rabbi said at the service, but I don't remember.] He said that bad things happen both by intent and by neglect and that societies don't just come into being and that we all have a responsibility. His bit was listed in the program as "The Challenge," and that was a serious challenge. He talked about how we contribute through staying silent, "So when someone tells the Jewish joke, the black joke, the whitey joke, the gay joke, the immigrant joke -- any joke that has more hate than human in it." I could have kissed him for including "the gay joke" in that list.
"Joyful, Joyful" (one of my favorite hymns -- words by Henry J. van Dyke to Beethoven's 9th) they did an arrangement further adapted from Sister Act II, with Somerville Community Baptist and Fellowship Church of God Youth Choirs. There was a soloist and then a couple kids came on doing cartwheels and then the rest of the choir joined them standing.
"We Are United" (words and music by Manuel and Joeline McGregor and arranged by Carol Cymbala, the conductor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)
There was a youngish white guy who looked familiar (maybe he's part of Somerville Community and I saw him when I attended service once in
When Joe was doing the thank yous, he said the mayor had told him he was the first Irishman to pronounce his name correctly :)
He noted that Magliozzi Funeral Home had made a large donation and said, "When you see them -- hopefully not too soon -- tell them we said thanks."
There was a trio of girls dancing up front during the recessional and after a while it looked like they'd run out of choreography and were just having fun and even after the recessional was over they kept dancing -- joined by a variety of others (including the very energetic conductor). My mom and I stayed and watched them. It was so good to see young people (especially as so many of them were female) so happy in their bodies.
We didn't stay for fellowship 'cause my mom was taking me to dinner and wanted to get home to work/sleep at something resembling a reasonable hour. I asked if there was anywhere she particularly wanted to go and she suggested if there was somewhere I'd been wanting to try, so I suggested Sabur since I always think of it as too pricey/classy to try out myself/with friends.
I got the "Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Gnocchi with Walnut Oil Dressing, Roasted Peppers and Grana Parmesan" and she got the "Roasted Garlic Polenta, Wood Grilled Artichokes, Tomato & Olives." I also got dessert: "Macedonian Wild Fig Sundae with Vanilla Gelato, Almond Frangipane & Pomegranate Caramel." The food was definitely good, though not so good that I would be likely to go back and pay those prices myself. Oh, and the interior is nice, more cozy than I had been expecting.
My Medieval Church paper is basically a string of quoted passages. The question is mad lame. The undergrad question is way better. ::pouts:: (So while I feel abashed handing in this piece of junk, I look forward to discussing the undergrad question in class.)