Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's always interesting...

...when you get those little "a-ha" moments.

As all of my friends and most of my readers know, I'm going through a rough patch. Laid off from work, parents' health failing, all kinds of other issues, things just not quite going my way right now.

I got up and went to church this morning, hoping to hear something inspiring, something uplifting, something that would help me.

I was on time! (put that in your pipe and smoke it)

The first thing I always do is check to see if they're doing baptism. If they're doing baptism, I turn around and leave. No offense to you parents of small children, but unless I actually KNOW the child or its parents, I really don't care to sit there and try to make it through church while your babies wail. Further, I don't much care for the actual baptismal service itself. Being a 52 year old man able to do what I want, when I want, if it's baptism Sunday, I'm out.

But not today. Today was scheduled to be a nice, normal, Rite I Communion kind of day (the service in Elizabethan english that I love so).

Settle in the pew, and the other big buggerboo---some 8 foot tall person sitting in front---was taken care of by a nice young man and his wife, both short.

So it was with some disappointment that I discovered that today was the day for the "B" team---Fr. Nutter and Fr. Craven taking the day off from preaching, the two youngest members of the staff doing the preaching and conducting the service. They're both very sweet young folks, but dangit!

Sermon was ok, he's a really nice, sweet guy, but he's young and father of babies and is the Young People's minister---which is GREAT, FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE. I was pretty impassive.

Music was fairly good (Palmer on a "fair" day is better than most churches on Christmas and Easter).

Then catastrophe struck (two times now since I've been a parishioner there). An elderly gentleman a couple of rows in front of me just slowly sank. His wife, obviously agitated, tried to summon help---which was quick to arrive.

If you're going to fall out, what better place than in a church at the front door of the Texas Medical Center, some of the finest medical care available anywhere. Church with multiple doctors, nurses, and paramedics as parishioners. And, of course, you're surrounded by priests as well.

So we stopped in the middle (which was weird) and the docs and priests attended to the gentleman; the paramedics (the ones on duty) brought the crash cart in and they got him up and out. The service then continued, albeit weirdly, and kind of absent-mindedly. We got through it, but that kind of stuff is always unnerving and you never quite get back "on track".

So, when I left, I really hadn't gotten what I came for; I was a little bummed. I drove home: Up South Main, left onto the ramp for the Southwest Freeway South (which runs east and west there), onto the Southwest Freeway to the Westpark Tollway (you have to "shoot the curl" right there, as we say---you stay left, then merge right across 5 lanes of traffic to exit. If you don't, you run into a "car wall" and you'll miss the exit).

On the Westpark, somewhere between Gessner and Beltway 8, I realized that I had a song stuck in my head. It was one of the communion hymns (we did "Amazing Grace" as one, but that wasn't it). It was a hymn we sang at least a million times in the Baptist church, but I've never heard the Episcopalians do it (and I've been an Episcopalian since 1983).

And then I realized, THAT HYMN is why I went this morning. I needed to hear it.

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim though this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
feed me till I want no more,
feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through;
strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer.
be thou still my Strength and Shield,
be thou still my Strength and Shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
bear me through the swelling current,
land me safe on Canaan's side;
songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee,
I will ever give to thee.