Sunday, July 7, 2019
Mark Scozzafave | Director of Music Ministries | firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe OSP thrives on music that challenges with its text, energizes with its composition, and weaves together a liturgical fabric of sacred word, ritual, and art. I offer below my perspective on today’s music––with careful consideration of its “musical voice”––and its relationship to two scriptural themes: peace and abundance.
No doubt struck by Isaiah’s maternal imagery describing the nurturing abundance of Mother Jerusalem, we also receive the line: “Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river…” In the original Hebrew text, the word “prosperity” comes to us as shalom: the rich Judaic concept connoting harmony, wholeness, completeness…peace.
Then in the second reading, Paul wishes “peace and mercy” to all who follow the command of the New Creation (a distinction perhaps between an old world order dominated by law, and the new Creation of Christian neighborly love). In both readings, the authors elevate peace for its role in newness and nourishing of people.
Finally in the gospel, Jesus anchors his didactic text: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few”. It is a take on his commissioning imperative to build disciples, but the voice is different: it is instructional––and somewhat demandingly so! At its core: dispense with formalities and earthly comforts, and extend peace to the households you encounter, be welcomed, be nourished by their abundance, be present, be Christ. Laborers, literally, prepare the way of the Lord.
Musically speaking, there exists no shortage of options to sing about peace, journeys, and discipleship. For today though, I challenge us to recast, or re-voice, the chosen selections slightly. In our song of gathering, the many faces, young and old, the pilgrims welcomed and sharing at feast––perhaps that refers not to those gathered here, but gathered as one neighborhood, or one team of colleagues, or as one community seeking peace outside of these walls. Then as the table is prepared to John Bell’s classic co-missioning piece The Summons, are we imagining Christ’s words to his followers, or is someone at our door calling us to be laborers? Is it perhaps our own courageous voice summoning others? The line that most captures my imagination is “Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around, through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?”
For a third challenge, as we process to the table with Marty Haugen’s All Are Welcome, know that it was most intentionally slotted at this moment, and not at Gathering! In today’s aggressively polarized climate, those titular words should be proclaimed as we draw near to the Lord, but what exactly are we building? We seek the abundance of the Harvest and eucharistic nourishment to count ourselves among those visited in the gospel; to build the peaceful households of hospitality; to build the kingdom generously in our own lives. So as we go forth from communion as Christ’s body, let us then build a house where love is found, where the stranger and outcast bear God’s image, where prophets speak in strong and true language, where we heal and teach––like the seventy-two in the gospel––where peace reigns and where the kingdom is not just at hand, but very much in hand.
p.s. Dominic and I love bringing music into this church and even more, hearing it echo from your voices. Let it sing!
p.p.s. Thank you for embracing our Mass of the Celtic Saints. Today is the feast day of Saint Máel Ruain (died 792) who was founder and abbot-bishop of the monastery of Tallaght, County Dublin, Ireland.