This week brings Thanksgiving, and we have a special Wednesday night service for the holiday at 7:00. Many of us spend time this week cleaning, cooking, shopping, and catching up on schoolwork. But in the midst of that flurry, it's important to take the time to reflect on our blessings and give thanks. In the same way we gather with family, we should set aside time to gather as a congregation. It allows us to express thanks for our church and community and God's blessings in our lives.
We'll be singing all the classic hymns of Thanksgiving and praise, including of course "Now Thank We All Our God." That hymn tells us to praise God with heart and hands and voices. Singing is explicitly part of the celebration, and I hope we'll have a full church making joyful noise together.
As a special treat, we have David returning to play trumpet. A BW alumnus and frequent visitor to Bethany, he's back in town to visit family for the holidays. He's currently studying trumpet performance at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford. We'll be playing several Baroque trumpet pieces by Telemann, and he'll also be playing along on many of the hymns and liturgy.
The choir will end the service with one of my favorite choral pieces, a setting of the Nunc Dimittis by Robert Scholz. The text is sometimes referred to as the Song of Simeon, and it comes from the second chapter of Luke. When Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple, Simeon utters these lines:
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before all nations,
A light to lighten the gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
The text has a long tradition as part of compline or night prayer, and we'll be singing a particularly lyrical and beautiful setting of the text. It will provide a quiet and contemplative ending, in contrast to the big hymns of praise. I hope that we'll all depart into the dark night pondering the many reasons we have to be thankful this week.