This morning, Gerald and I were guest musicians at the Church of the Holy Trinity. For those in Toronto, it's that gorgeous little old church that's tucked in behind the Eaton Centre. It's the same church where I did my Sing of Eve concert this summer.
This week, Toronto is host to the ginormously huge International AIDS Conference. As a city, we are welcoming doctors, politicians, and activists from all around the world. Holy Trinity has some involvement in the conference, so this morning's service was a wonderful way for delegates and parishioners to start the week with praise and prayer.
The hymns and prayers were full of themes of hope, healing, and God's unconditional love. Our homily was given by a Canadian who's just returned from Africa. He was there with the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (the Anglican branch of Third World relief). His focus was to encourage the church to get involved in the fight on AIDS, and to encourage those with the disease to lean on their faith. In his time in Africa, he met people whose entire families had been killed by AIDS. But the thing that amazed him the most was their unwavering faith in God. He met people who were dirt poor, ravaged by a disease with no medicine in sight, grandmothers raising orphaned children, and yet they were full of hope. Pure hope! When he asked the source of their hope, they had one simple answer - Our faith comes from God. How can we argue that? Here in North America, we are wealthy, with all the best medical resources available, yet every day, we find reason to doubt God. Funny, huh?
I had attended services at Holy Trinity several times, so musically, I knew what to expect. Because they are a social justice church, they would never invest large funds in an orchestra and a huge sound system. Because of that, their music is earthy and acoustic. Lots of instruments and an international mix of music. It's always very creative and inspiring, so we really tried to bring our best stuff.
We were asked to perform a prelude based on 'hope', so I sang "Farther Along" and Gerald did our song, "God is There". The rest of the hymns were chosen by the music committee from the Voices United hymnal. We opened with "This Ancient Love" which is just gorgeous! I took a copy so I can sing it again. Gerald played guitar, and I sang harmonies and played the rain stick. The next hymn was new words to the Joyful, Joyful tune; again with Gerald on guitar and me leading the singing.
The rest of the hymns were scheduled to be sung acapella. Our voice teacher, Sue, is the interim music director at the church, so she offered to lead the singing on these. But you know, we couldn't just sit back and listen... So Gerald picked up his djembe, I grabbed my shakers, and we just improvised. It was awesome. It's a real singing congregation, so voices were raised and God's name was lifted up!
I just feel so blessed to be getting these kinds of opportunities. It feels strange to be moving when so many opportunities are coming my way, but I continue to just follow the plan that God is laying out for me. I can feel all my Stamps-Baxter skills working their way into my music and especially in my ability to communicate the Gospel. I am also reminded of Andy Piercy's advice that we are to be shepherds and servants all at the same time. I don't really know how to describe what I'm feeling tonight. I feel my focus tightening in a way that's never happened before. I'm feeling more and more open to God's will. It's a huge trust to 'let go and let God', but I'm feeling His support beneath me, and that's pretty awesome. I just want to trust it all to Him. I'm praying for continued strength...