Monday, April 7, 2014

An Angel to the Rescue

I volunteered to occasionally read the lessons at Petersburg Lutheran Church.  My turn arrived on the last Sunday of March.  With a tendency to fumble my words, I practiced.  I was glad I did.  Guys with names like Abinadab, Shammah, and Eliab are not in my circle of friends and of course I wanted to sound like I personally knew those brothers of David. 

                                 Karen's fresh watercolor painting of Petersburg Lutheran Church  4 x 6 inches

The routine at Petersburg Lutheran is for the reader to narrate the first lesson -- something from the Old Testament Bible, sit down behind the lectern while either the choir or congregation sings a hymn and then rise to read the second lesson -- usually something from a letter Paul wrote to encourage congregations he had previously visited.  Easy!

I didn’t even trip getting up to the lecturn and there it was just as I expected -- a Bible opened to the first reading.  Good.  In the past the lessons I read were printed on the Church bulletin so I just read from that.  Not this week.  The reading from the New Testament took up the entire page.  All that was printed for my part were the words “Not Printed.”    I had to read from the Bible on the lectern -- the one with big print.  Perfect. 

The first lesson went off without a hitch.  I rattled off Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah like they were old high school buddies  As the choir master (Lila) raised her arms to launch the choir into their piece. I closed the Bible and started looking for a tab to guide me to the second lesson. 

Oh, no!  This is not a regular Bible.  I soon discerned it was arranged by weekly readings.  I just had to get back to where I was.  The choir launched into song. 

OK, where were we?  Ah, I see some dates.  I’ll just rifle back to the last week in March.  Oh oh.  This is Lent -- the part of the Church calendar leading up to Easter.  Here the lessons were named by weeks in the Church year.  I broke into a sweat.  I don’t know the names of the weeks in the Church calendar.  Please, dear God, may this be a long hymn.  The choir sang on.

By now the stress had me really fumbling -- totally rattled -- my search almost becoming random.  I think I found the first Sunday of September four times.  Oh, please, Lila, keep the choir singing.

I was losing it.  I started imagining the humility of having to tell the congregation I don’t have the lesson.  Then -- there it was.  An Angel must have left a pew Bible under the lectern just for me.  The choir sang on.

Frantically with shaking hands I thumbed through the pages desperately seeking Paul’s letter.  What order were they in?  Yes, at least I remembered near the back of the Bible.  The choir finished singing as the congregation did the most un-Lutheran thing.  They clapped to give me ten more seconds.   I didn’t even know what the choir had sung, but I knew it must have been wonderful.  And then, there it was -- YES the passage.  Thank you God. 

I stood up and read from the pew Bible, "For you were once darkness..."  I don’t think anyone even knew how much those words rang true that Sunday morning.

I painted God's View, Sunday Morning Second Pew from the Back of the Church based on several photos Karen took during a Sunday School Rally day to herald the beginning of the fall Sunday School year.  We had been asked to record the event with our cameras and this was our big bonus.  This piece is 48 x 15 inches and is painted with alkyds on stretched canvas

Lifting Fog   12 x 16 inches   Alkyd on Canvas  Karen and I have a number of photos of Petersburg Lutheran Church in our files.  We see our favorite view looking down the road (Excell Street) from up at the ball park.  I took the photo on which I based this painting during a morning walk as fog lifted  over Petersburg to reveal another glorious day.  The figure -- it's of our daughter Amanda from a photo I took several years later walking out to Blind Slough Rapids.  Oh, and I changed Mandy's clothes to the outfit Karen was wearing that day.


Susan Christensen said...

Your Guardian Angel was right beside you, Don!!
Thanks for pulling me back into my pew with this post!
love to you both,

Don and Karen Cornelius Artwork said...

Yes He or She was. We wish you were in that pew in person.

Carol Swanson McCabe said...

Oh stress...I felt it while enjoying your post!

Carol Swanson McCabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dana Konings said...

You two and your art. Wow.