While we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and have ceased in person worship for the time being, we are still gathering our hearts and minds for worship as a church. Each week our staff produces and emails an at-home worship packet with words, art, and music. You can find previous weeks’ worship packets here. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request to be added to the weekly email list to receive these in your inbox.
If you have pastoral requests or concerns please email email@example.com
Hello CCLJ Family (and Friends far and wide):
We are still very much a functioning, living, breathing church. This is evidence of that. We are doing something that has never been done in the history of our church.
Below you will find a Weekly worship kit. During these weeks of at home worship we will be reflecting on what this means. Can we be significant staying at home? What does it mean to contend with illness? With an infirm world? Can we change the world from our own homes? Let’s explore these questions together by looking to the past and looking to our sacred scriptures.
Please open the at home worship guide below by clicking on it. It should open with ease. Start on page one and read through the guide. There are four audio files that you will see below as well. Don’t listen to the audio files until the guide instructs you to. They are listed clearly as “Audio File 1,” “Audio File 2,” “Audio File 3,” and “Audio File 4.” This is to make this as simple as possible. Keep the guide open as you work through the worship guide so that you can easily access the audio files when necessary. When instructed by the guide to listen to an audio file, simply click on the audio file that the guide instructs you to.
Also, please read all the way through the worship guide. Your staff put in an incredible amount of time in getting this together for you. There is a fun homework assignment too. We ask that you to send us a photo. This can be a selfie of you at home today, or a photo of the place you choose to worship, or a photo of something that is currently inspiring you. When we come back together we will use these photos in a special way.
Rev. Tim Seery, Minister
Dr. Nina Gilbert, Music Director
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, Office Manager, Soloist
Week 83 October 10th, 2021
This week I am trying something different. I am writing out a long and descriptive email to you which blends scripture and my message as well as important information about our future events and the Blessing of the Animals event to take place next week. Please be sure to read it. However, if you’d like to listen to me read this email to you, I have included a recording of that below in lieu of a traditional message. If you’d prefer to listen, you can stop reading now and click on the attachment marked, “Message” below.
Today, you are also receiving this email from my personal email address because the church email would not accept any of the music attachments! If there is one thing I have now learned over the course of ministry these past two years it is flexibility.
Nina’s musical selections this week focus on the concept of time. This was inspired by a conversation we had with each other a few weeks ago about the strangeness of time. Of course the most famous scripture on time is from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
I’ve often referenced my favorite artist, Felix Gonzalez Torres–and I will once more: He was also very interested in the idea of time. He created a public billboard installation that included nothing more than the words: “It’s just a matter of time.” He went on to create multilingual versions of this and put them up in various countries around the world. Here are two examples. One in English and one in German.
The meaning here is open to debate and individual interpretation. Because, all things, one could argue, are just a matter of time. This week marks my fourth year with you. When I arrived in San Diego I was in my final days of 24 and now I am 29. At age 24 I never dreamed that an extensive period of my time among you would consist of virtual/email/remote ministry. None of us did. I never dreamed that we’d encounter a world like the one we’ve had to contend with over these past four years.
Time is opaque, time can be blurry. Time can offer both greater obscurity and greater clarity. I’m still trying to figure out time. I guess it’s just a matter of time until I do.
Speaking of time, it is almost time for our first in-person event. You will also find attached to this email the invitation and announcement to our first in person event since March 2020. Blessing of the Animals will be a primarily outdoor event on Sunday, October 17, 2021 at 10:30 am. We will not be having fellowship or refreshments after. This will be an opportunity for us to experiment with our new journey of holding events that are safe, Covid cognizant, and spiritually nourishing.
As we have begun the process of planning this event, we have realized that there is more to in-person events than we might have previously realized. Since making the announcement last week about the reintroduction of in-person worship I have heard from a few of you who have expressed that you will be sitting out the first several in-person services until Delta subsides. All of this is very valid.
That is why as we begin this phase-in to in-person worship we will take this slowly and cautiously. We also want to make sure that both our folks who desperately want in- person worship as well as our folks who aren’t ready yet are taken care of and listened to. That is why we are considering a plan of alternation, where no one will be without church for more than a week.
Since we will hold an in person event on October 17, we will go virtual October 24, and regather in-doors on October 31 for All Saints Worship.
It is our hope that this alternating of in person with virtual services will allow us the time to make this essential transition through the end of this year. We will not have choir for at least the rest of this year and will also not have fellowship for the remainder of this year as well.
As we begin to prepare for in person worship I want to share this clip from Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in NYC, a church which holds a very famous Blessing of the Animals:
As the wise sage who wrote Ecclesaisties points out there is a season for everything. There is a relatable order to God’s creation. Though there is finitude to our time, God’s time is eternal. What God does endures forever. Whatever we do, or don’t do can add or take away from that. We are called to stand in awe. As I listen to this scripture now it has new and different meaning. “A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” feels almost like this was written specifically with our contemporary reality in mind. As does “A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” We refrained from embracing and scattered across the city and now is time to begin to regather. And in time, there will be a time to embrace again. As Felix Gonzalez Torres reminds us, “It’s just a matter of time.” Time may be confusing to us, but in it there is an order and peace of God’s own making. The time we have been doing church this way has felt both simultaneously excruciatingly long and like the blink of an eye. Now is the time for us to begin something new. It won’t be like 2019 but it will be good. It will be good because we are doing the right thing and we have been doing the right thing all along.
I look forward to seeing you next week. It’s just a matter of time.
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Our piano selections consider the concept of time—fast vs. slow, measured vs. irregular—in three settings of the same tune. Coincidentally, the original composer (Nicolai) created the hymn in response to a plague—the Pestilence of 1597 in the city of Unna, Westphalia, where he served as a Lutheran pastor.
Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright, 1597
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright, 1740
Three times through the tune: first Nicolai’s single line, then an uncredited later harmonization of the Nicolai, and then Bach. Nicolai follows the meter and accents of his poetry—some syllables longer, some shorter. Bach made the note lengths uniform and created several harmonizations, including this one from our hymnal.
I to the Hills Will Lift My Eyes: Psalm 121
Words from The New Metrical Version of the Psalms, 1909
Music from the Scottish Psalter, 1615
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright
A bicinium—that is, a piece for two musical lines—where the upper voice carries the tune in longer notes, and the lower voice offers a stylized accompaniment.