Harrell Beck, a professor at the Boston University School of Theology for 33 years, once told the story of attending the wedding of a friend. The bride was 20 minutes late, and a visiting cousin had played a piece from Bach four times badly – it was all she knew. Finally Beck peeked across the organ to see if the bride’s mother had been seated (often a clue as to whether anything will happen) and his eyes fell across the prelude. To his horror it was titled (translated from the German) “I Stand with One Foot in the Grave.” This was a wedding. What was worse, the groom, who was himself an organist, had picked the piece out for this occasion. This was not the most auspicious beginning for a marriage!
But then Beck noticed the subtitle: “A Cantata in Praise of Jesus Christ.” The bride finally showed, and following the wedding, Beck looked up this cantata to see what had happened.
J.S. Bach, getting ready one Saturday afternoon to face a congregation – he was after all a church organist – wandered down to a nearby pub to clear his mind, where he heard a folk song entitled “One Foot in the Grave.” It set his foot to tapping. He went back to his house where he helped Mrs. Bach put to bed their 18 children. Then, when all was quiet, he went back to the church alone and there, in that cathedral, he transformed this folk song “I Stand with One Foot in the Grave” into “A Cantata in Praise of Jesus Christ.”
When the people of that congregation came to church the next morning and heard that sound, they knew that they were loved. A transformation had occurred. The common had become uncommon. The secular had given birth to the sacred. “One Foot in the grave” had become “A Cantata in Praise of Jesus Christ.
Today, as we prepare for Easter morning, we too can speak of transformation and new life. As a congregation, we have recommitted ourselves to mission and ministry in our neighborhood and to one another. We assist with community lunch, supper, and recreation programs; our members volunteer at Charter House and support the back-to-school shop and Christmas shop; we support Habitat for Humanity, HOPE, CVOEO, CROP Walk, Church World Service, United Methodist Commission on Relief (UMCOR); and we support our missionary partner, Jeremias Franca, director of Chicuque Rural Hospital & Center of Hope in Mozambique.
To help us continue these ministries, please consider offering a gift to the Church. But most of all, please join us during Holy Week as we celebrate the risen Christ, the one whose life, death, and resurrection transformed not just a tune, but the whole world:
- Palm Sunday, April 13, 10:45 AM
- Maundy Thursday, April 17, 7:00 PM
- Good Friday, April 18, 12:00 PM (held in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church)
- Easter Sunrise, April 20, 6:00 AM at Youngman Field, Middlebury College
- Easter Morning, April 20, 10:45 AM
We look forward to seeing you!
Grace and Peace,
Gus and Laurie Jordan, Coordinating Pastors