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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Thoughts on a warm summer Sunday

Today the lowest section of the stained-glass window next to me is open to catch any cool breezes, reminding me of warm Sunday mornings when I was a girl growing up in a little town in Minnesota.

I remember a large painting on my childhood church's front wall of Jesus kneeling by a large rock. He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane — praying not only for himself but for all of us.

And I remember the great hymns we sang: "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "I Love to Tell the Story" and "Jesus Shall Reign (where'er the sun does its successive journeys run)." Those hymns would ring in my mind for a week after Sunday worship.

But especially I remember the responsive readings. I loved the way the pastor spoke one line and we responded with the next. It seemed as if all creation stopped to listen as we intoned those great words.

Back then if I looked through the bottom of the stained-glass window next to me I could see my sturdy, limestone grade school on a side street across from the church. As a first-grader in that school we read about Dick and Jane:

Dick.
See Dick.
See Dick run.
Run, Dick, run.

Jane.
See Jane (etc.).

But in church on Sunday mornings we read:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.
Day unto day uttereth speech,
and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard  (Psalm 19:1-3).

Those mighty words rang in my heart, soul and mind. It was as if I stood out on the front porch of the world, looking out upon all creation. It was almost more than my 6-year-old self could deal with.

Today my attention snaps back to the present day. It is time for the responsive reading:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them (Psalm 8:3-4)?

For my now greatly increased number of years, these majestic words are still almost too much. That's a good sort of problem. 


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