Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This past Sunday, I worshipped in two settings. At the usual morning hour, I gathered with others of our community of faith at the church building. This time was spent together doing something a little different. We spoke of older traditions common to a denomination in which most of us grew up. Probably we would speak unanimously as a group saying that while we still hold on to some of the old, we have moved beyond many of those earlier traditions. We were reminded that some of the "old ways" were part of the bridge that carried us into the birth and development of our faith.

The second act of worship was not to return to the church building later that same day. It began as my family and I placed ourselves in a small eatery known as the "Cook Shack" in the northern part of our county. Some of us ordered an early afternoon meal off of the menu and then waited with others who took seats in the crowded venue as the time approached for a concert by the folk singer, John McCutcheon.

McCutcheon has been a favorite of our family for a long time. We have been to a couple of previous concerts and have enjoyed his music via tapes and cds over the years. Many a long trip was made easier as we listened and sang along with John.

The next two and a half hours were spent listening to the oldies and some of his newer compositions, co-mingled with stories that he told. As always, there was a lot of humor. There were also moments that caused a lump to rise in our throats. That which came from his mouth focused on realisms of our day, some good, some not so good.

He concluded the show with his noted work, "Christmas in the trenches." The song is based on a historical event during World War l when the English and the Germans called a truce, came together on the battlefied to sing, share goodies, and play soccer. As dawn approached, they returned from their respite to the work of war. The song concludes with the words, "The ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame and on each end of the rifle, we're the same." Powerful sermon.

I no longer hold to a differentiation of space, namely, that some locales like a church building are sacred and most of the rest are secular. The sacred is found in all kinds of places. And as I had to consider again the need for our understanding of a shared humanity, I sensed that I was on holy ground. Even at the Cook Shack.

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