It has been over two months since the sudden death of our brother in Christ and leader in ministry Mark Ball. It was an unexpected and great tragedy for us as a community and this time of grieving has been a fragile time for me personally and for us as a community. I was reflecting this morning on a passage from the Letter to the Colossians:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if
anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord
has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with
love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony, And let the peace
of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.
And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and
admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing
psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
In the midst of my personal grief, I have experienced so many of these spiritual gifts from members of this congregation—kindness, compassion, patience, forbearance, and love. All of these have helped me heal and begin to see the future more clearly for the ministry of our church. My hope and prayer is that you too have experienced these things from one another.
And, oh my goodness, I have felt gratitude in abundance. I am grateful to the whole congregation for the spirit you continue to impart to our worship life and our ministry as a whole day by day and week by week. I am grateful to the participants in our music ministry, so important to the vitality and beauty of our worship life, for even with heavy hearts they have continued to shine for us with the light of grace and love as they share their gifts. I am grateful to the folks who agreed to serve on our Director of Music search committee, a task none of us wanted to have to engage in, for their willingness to do so with prayer, searching patiently for the discernment of the Holy Spirit about the way forward in our staffing of our music ministry.
Sometimes it is important to name names. We have been blessed by the talents and gifts of our guest organist/accompanists Chris Leaver and Joshua Hearn…as well as by the willingness of Sean Tatschl and Stephanie Henry to share their gifts on piano and organ as well. In the immediate aftermath of losing Mark, Stephanie Henry, Sean Tatschl, Larry Williams, and Marilyn Lake brought much needed guidance and comfort to us through the generous sharing of time and gifts…and we continue to benefit from their dedication to us weekly. To all of the members of our ensembles—the Chancel Choir, the Bells of Peace, the Joyful Noise Singers and Ringer, Sing and Shout!—I offer my deep gratitude. To other musicians who have contributed to our worship life, I am also grateful. Please keep our Director of Music search committee regularly in your prayers—Larry McDonald, Annehara Tatschl, Madeline Dasch, Charles Singleton, Pam Nitsche, Dave Reid, and Wendi Levitt—as they continue their work on our behalf.
Gratitude is a great balm for grief and the emotions that come from dwelling in a season of grief. Let us continue to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. Thank you all!
Grace and Peace,