My time in Morocco is coming to an end soon. The trip has been an inspiring and humbling experience. On our trek of some 1,000 miles throughout the middle and southern part of Morocco, I met people from various cities and villages, visited many of the historic sites, observed the natural sites of God’s creation, listened to missionaries tell of their work in urban and very rural areas. I’ve also had the opportunity, in route from place to place, to discuss what was seen, heard and experienced by those on the trip with me: my oldest brother Fred, my youngest brother Mark, and our uncle, Robert. It has been a rich experience of travel and of deepening family ties. Such travel has the potential to open one’s eyes to a world teaming with people who all have more in common with one another than the differences that seem to always garner the most attention.
In his folksy philosophizing, Mark Twain in “Innocents Abroad” wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Thank you for this time away and the opportunity to see the wonder of God at work in the world. I look forward to sharing with you some of my reflections on this wonderful trip.
The opportunity to travel to Morocco, taking in the sights and sounds in route, in Fes and in the surrounding areas, has already been an adventure. Thank you for your prayers as I continue this journey and learn more about the history and the many fascinating aspects of this beautiful and complex country. I look forward to sharing with you about this time away, and in the meantime, will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
This week began with a great sense of sorrow and heaviness for the victims and families affected by the despicable, cowardly and evil act of a lone gunman in Las Vegas. Thoughts and emotions of anger and rage toward this one welled up as we all tried to make some sense of this horrendous attack, but there is no making sense of it. Our minds and spirits are not equipped to handle such disregard for others and even for life itself. Our thoughts and prayers are with those directly affected by this attack and for the family members and friends helping their loved ones cope amid this tragedy. May God bring comfort and healing in the midst of an incredibly difficult time.
This past Sunday, we celebrated World Communion Sunday and what a wonderful time of worship we experienced. A display of flags helped remind us that followers of Christ the world over are brothers and sisters in Christ and that is the greatest of all family bonds. In about a week, I will be visiting some of our brothers and sisters in North Africa. I will be away for the next three Sundays for a time of rest, reflection and renewal. Most of that time away will be spent traveling in the country of Morocco where my older brother, Fred, has participated in mission work with missions organizations for over thirty years. Some of these organizations provide homes for orphans and others have been involved in well-drilling projects in Berber villages in the southern part of the country near Algeria. Fred will guide the travel as we visit these areas to observe and participate as time permits. The time spent in the cities of Fes, Rabat and Casablanca will be spent visiting cultural and religious sites including the Hassan II mosque.
I am confident that these experiences and the time away will be beneficial for me, and in turn, for all of us in our ministry efforts in the future. I will certainly have you in my thoughts and prayers while away and hope you will keep me in yours as well.
I often say this from the pulpit on Sunday mornings, but our hymns are indeed chosen to enhance and enlarge our understanding of the homiletic theme for the day. Perhaps this begs the question, “What is a hymn?”
Not to get too deeply professorial, there is nonetheless a difference between hymns and hymn tunes. Actually, a hymn is by definition a type of sacred poem; that is, text. Where we generally have a confusion is often with the tune, familiar or unfamiliar. If you’ll notice, we list the name of the hymn tune (traditionally in ALL CAPS) in the right column of our worship leaflet each Sunday. The beauty of this system is that according to the metrical scan of the text (the hymn), we can interchange tunes with texts and so forth, providing a great deal of flexibility.
Sometimes our hymnal, however, has made such interchange a bit odd. A good example might be the first two hymns we are singing on Sunday, October 1 (World Communion Sunday). The tune for the first hymn, ST. PETER, is actually the one many of us would have found familiarly set to the text of the second hymn, “In Christ There Is No East or West.” But the editors of our current hymnal decided to set that text to a newer tune, McKEE. And so it goes!
No matter the tune, familiar or unfamiliar, I do hope all of our congregation will continue to participate in the devoted singing of our hymns each Sunday, even if it is just to chant the hymn/text, muddling along in new territory! The words are always worth the effort.
During October and November, the theme of our homilies will be “Discipleship in Mark’s Gospel.” Many writers on Mark think of this gospel as a masterpiece, a story that might have been read or told in one sitting. It’s a story that is colorful, especially lively, and Mark is an immensely creative and powerful storyteller. It was probably the first of the four gospels to be written, during a period of persecution, around 65 C.E., when the idea “taking up your cross” and following Jesus was a very real possibility. It explores the theme of discipleship. Each week, we will work our way through the book, taking an incident from various chapters to listen to the voice of Jesus calling us to believe the good news of the gospel and follow him in the life of discipleship.
Dr. Ken Roxburgh
Pastor for Preaching and Teaching
We had a great turn out for Family Promise of Birmingham‘s (FPoB) Annual Auction themed “FALL in Love.” Thank you to all who participated by donating to the baskets or purchasing tables, sponsorships, or attending the event. This year we were hosted in the beautiful Parrish Hall of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. The event was well attended and was a wonderful way to network with other congregations involved in this ministry. If you are interested in learning more about Family Promise, our hosting week is approaching and we are always looking for volunteers. If you would like to know more, please contact Chris Fisher or Brenda Tidwell.
– Chris Fisher, Missions & Ministry Committee
It is hard to believe it is only a few weeks until the Advent and Christmas seasons. The choir has begun rehearsing movements from “Messiah” as well as the Saint-Saens “Christmas Oratorio.” These pieces will be presented during the Sundays of Advent.
As it is World Communion Sunday on October 1st, the prelude will be “Song of Peace” by Jean Langlais, the famous French organist and composer. This piece is part of a collection called “Nine Pieces.” The collection shows Langlais’ use of Gregorian chant and polymodal harmonies in his compositions. The first three of the nine are “Song of Sorrow,” “Song of Joy” and “Song of Peace.” These were composed during WWII when France was under German occupation. They were published in 1945.
As always, thank you for your support of music at Southside. We have a wonderful heritage!