From the sublime to the … sublime!
Mark 12: 38-44 (NRSVA)
38 As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’
41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’
George MacLeod, founder of the Iona Community, wrote that Iona is “a thin place where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual.” The Abbey is indeed a sacred space. On one of my visits, I arrived early for a service finding a string quartet playing in the sanctuary. They were playing, ‘Are you going to Scarborough Fair’. As I listened, I felt the shiver of the Holy Spirit’s presence. I can honestly say that listening to this undeniably secular tune, beautifully played in a place where people had been worshipping for hundreds of years, was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had.
At the other end of the musical spectrum, in a church I once belonged to, the organist, who was an accordionist and not even a trained pianist let alone an organist, was “standing in” until we found someone qualified. His playing was once described as “approximate”; he tended to play the electric organ using the same techniques as he would have use to play the accordion. However, he was faithfully offering of his best and enabling worship week after week within that community. After some time, when no more qualified person was found, he was officially made our organist. Our worship was enhanced by his humble offering.
who gives us gifts to enhance our life and our worship,
thank you that you accept the offering we bring
however earthly, however humble.
Thank you that you use our gifts,
accepting them, sanctifying them
by your Holy Spirit.
Thank you that when we worship you
with our whole heart
regardless of the medium,
you are glorified
and we are raised, through praise,
to sit with you in the heavenly places, Amen