More on Music

Untitled Post

posted Jul 2, 2019, 8:04 AM by Cindy Tidball

OK, this isn’t an article about music this month. Music is important to me, but it’s not everything in my life—not even everything important. Another important thing for me is donating blood. And that got me to thinking of many other aspects of my life where small events become big things.
 
When I went online to sign up to give blood at the July 11th blood drive at Peace Church being organized by the L.I.F.E. group, I used my account on the Red Cross website and noted that they say I have donated 130 times. For those who like math, 130 pints of blood is a little over 16 gallons. The Red Cross says that each time I donate, I help up to three individuals. That would mean that almost 400 people have been helped during the 40+ years that I have been donating blood.
 
It’s never a big deal when I go in to a donation center to give. The people are friendly, I get my blood pressure checked, and I even get a little down time after the donation to have a snack and prepare my calendar for the next time I am eligible to give. It’s so routine that I sometimes have to remind myself of just how important it is to several people out there each time I show up.
 
How many things in your life are like this? How many meals have you cooked for your family? How many times have you provided taxi service for your or others’ children? How many times have you smiled and tried to help someone else to feel important? How many letters and phone calls have you made to people who try to influence public sector decision making? In the doing of any of these simple tasks, it is hard to see anything of great significance. Yet how would we ever have strong and healthy children, vibrant communities, or just and effective government without them?
 
Little things can lead to big problems as well. A body doesn’t gain 50 pounds overnight. They creep up one ounce at a time—repeated days when the caloric intake exceeds the caloric need. Likewise the inability of people to communicate with those of differing political persuasions doesn’t happen overnight. Years of fear and neglect have caused most of us to lose (or never acquire) the communication skills that would allow us to have the important, if contentious, conversations we need to have today.
 
The Big Life that some would see in me, a person who, for over forty years, has donated enough blood to help almost 400 people, is simply a vision planted in me of what I could become coupled with the willingness to do years of little things. Parenting is this way. A strong faith community is this way. A healthy community, a just nation, and so on—these are all done this way. Find a compelling vision. Then plot out and get to work on the everyday little steps that move you on the way.
 
Unlike the superhero mythology of our day, in which dire circumstances require the intervention of someone of miraculous intelligence, strength and will, almost anyone can develop a compelling vision and walk the everyday steps towards its fulfillment. And, all of us together can form communities of individuals who encourage each other to keep on keeping on. I hope all of you will help Peace to be that kind of place.
 
Anyone want to sign up to give blood at Peace on July 11th?

Beer Choir Anyone?

posted May 30, 2019, 1:28 PM by Cindy Tidball

Believe it or not, the title above is NOT a shameless attempt to grab your attention and get you to read this (OK, maybe just a little). But, there actually is such a thing as Beer Choir, and the Twin Cities has the largest Beer Choir chapter in the country. See this MPR story for some background.
 
I have already suggested to the Celebration Chorale and Ringers of Peace that we make the Twin Cities Beer Choir event on June 21st, 7-9 pm at the Como Park Pavilion in St. Paul an excuse to get together for an evening of fellowship and fun – and I don’t even like beer! I know that there are musicians associated with Peace who are not in these formal groups – and perhaps a few who mostly just like to drink beer – so I thought I should send this invitation so they can join in the fun as well. Send me an email (dave@peaceumc.com) if you want to be informed about Peace group plans related to this event.
 
And – while I’ve got your attention – please put this date in your calendar: Saturday, September 21st, 7 pm. That’s the date that pianist Don Irwin will be in our sanctuary to present a concert to benefit The Good Neighbor Center. I know many of you have a fondness for Don’s piano style and for the Good Neighbor Center, so I wanted to let you know in advance so that you can reserve the date on your calendar. And, for those who want to help with the financial cost of bringing Don here for the concert, please get in touch with me for an opportunity to be a financial sponsor.
 
Finally, particularly during the summer months, I’m always looking for musicians who want to contribute music to our Sunday morning worship experiences. Any age – any experience level – is acceptable. And I would love recommendations from you regarding musicians or music that you have heard in other settings that you would like to hear on Sunday mornings. I’m not shy about asking – but I may not know that you would like to volunteer, or that you have some information to share. So send me a message (dave@peaceumc.com) – you don’t have to wait to be asked!

Summer Music and Don Irwin in the Fall

posted May 2, 2019, 1:59 PM by Cindy Tidball

Summer Music Volunteers Needed
Our regular music groups take the summer off. This leaves the Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day open for anybody who would like to make a musical contribution to our worship experiences. In past years, volunteers have included children who have recently begun learning to play instruments, singers whose schedules don’t normally allow them to contribute to our regular music groups, people with hidden musical talents, as well as many of our regular musicians who like to contribute in unique ways.
 
To coordinate the scheduling, I have created a SignUpGenius webpage for 2019 Summer Musicians. That link is immediately below this invitation. Check your calendar, maybe talk to a few friends you want to help you out, pick a date and put your name down. The program lets me know when people sign up. I’ll be in touch to coordinate with you and be of any assistance that you need. I really enjoy these summer opportunities to do a wide variety of things with music. I hope you will accept this invitation to join in!
http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f084fafad22a7f49-summer3
 
Don Irwin Benefit Concert for the Good Neighbor Center
At the urging of a long-time participant in the Peace Community of Faith, I have arranged for pianist Don Irwin http://www.donirwin.com/pages/whois.html to present a benefit concert for the Good Neighbor Center in the Peace Church sanctuary on Saturday evening, September 21st. He will also participate in our worship service on the following day.
 
Don is a very gifted musician. He was our connection to the Steinway company when our sanctuary piano was purchased back in the late 1990’s and played several concerts here in the early 2000’s. He has a significant and faithful group of fans here in the Twin Cities area. My hope is that, besides enjoying Don’s wonderful music, the concert will present an opportunity for many of Don’s fans to learn of, and perhaps become supporters of, the work of the Good Neighbor Center.
 
Anyone interested in helping to underwrite Don’s playing fee so that the whole of the concert free-will offering can go to the Good Neighbor Center, please get in touch with me (dave@peaceumc.com; 651-484-2226; 651-633-6697) or speak to me in person after worship some Sunday.

The Truth that Sets Us Free

posted Apr 12, 2019, 1:56 PM by Cindy Tidball

Sunday, May 5th, Special Musical Worship Event Featuring the Peace Praise Singers

This event was originally scheduled for March 31st. The date for this worship experience was changed so that it would not interrupt the flow of the special Lenten series of worship events that we subsequently decided to use. So – back in February, I wrote the article below to provide some background and context for the Praise Singer worship event. I hope many of you are planning on being in attendance at worship on May 5th. Perhaps re-reading this February article will be good preparation.

The Truth that Sets Us Free
In a rambling discourse involving both teaching and dispute with temple authorities, the writer of the Gospel of John records the following (John 8:30-32):

While he spoke, many became believers. Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you live according to my teaching, you really are my disciples; then you’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Later, in the trial scene just before his crucifixion, John describes the following exchange between Pilate and Jesus (John 18:37-38):

Pilate said, “So you’re a King?”

Jesus replied, “You say I’m a King. I was born and came into the world for one purpose – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who seeks the truth hears my voice.”

“Truth? What is truth?” asked Pilate.

(from The Inclusive New Testament, ©1996 by Priests for Equality)

We live in an age operating under the common assumption that all truth is relative subject to various personal and cultural perceptions, an age in which many cultural institutions that have professed to embody truth have crumbled under the scrutiny of those they had oppressed. Thus, the truth behind the patriarchal family has been found wanting as its abuse of women and persons of non-traditional sexual identity has been acknowledged. The truth behind the Blessed Community of the Church has been found wanting as its abuse of children and subjugation of women has been acknowledged. And the truth of the righteous American government has been found wanting as its complicity in everything from slavery to genocide to the rule of foreign dictators has been acknowledged.

In this cultural truth vacuum, in which our current President is completely at home peddling whatever comes into his mind on any given day as truth, I believe there is a deep yearning for truth – a truth – the truth – something that will form a solid basis for a life well lived. So I was excited to reacquaint myself with this song by John L. Bell of the Iona Community, “The Truth that Sets Us Free.” I think it’s worth the three minutes it will take for you to listen to him sing this song in his lovely Scottish brogue at this link

The Praise Singers and I will use written meditations and a number of songs during worship on March 31st to try to add more concrete meaning to the thoughts expressed in Mr. Bell’s song. I will write the meditations over the next several weeks. If you have ideas I might include, please drop me an email at dave@peaceumc.com to share them with me. (Not too late for this. The spoken reflections are still works in process.)

Lenten Worship

posted Mar 20, 2019, 8:15 AM by Cindy Tidball

Busy – Reconnecting with an unhurried God
The season of Lent has often been a time when we think about "giving
something up”—a holdover from its penitential flavor in the medieval
church. But what if we thought less about "giving up" and more about
"making room?"  ~Dr. Marcia McFee
 
Is it possible that the busyness often associated with modern life has crowded God out? Could it be we are actually less available to be the compassionate and caring people we would like to be because our lives are stuffed to the gills with activities and commitments? To explore this territory, Gary and I have decided to make use of Lenten worship materials designed by Dr. Marcia McFee. Dr. McFee’s materials were recommended by Pam Jacobson, our lay delegate to the 2018 Annual Conference, who attended worship workshops there that highlighted Dr. McFee’s materials.
 
Dr. McFee writes, in her introduction to these Lenten worship materials, The theme draws on the need for self-care in order to continue our work of caring for others. It addresses the growing intensity and frenetic pace of life. The series will invite folks to practices of making room, clearing out, slowing down, and prioritizing for the sake of holistic lives. “This holistic life involves living with the rhythms that allow us to thrive, finding a balance between work, play, rest and reflection. Jesus calls his followers to more than just
unbridled consumption or production. Rather, our Sacred Story sees our lives and bodies as gifts that should be nurtured.”
 
While there will be some changes from the customary format and flow of our worship during Lent, the content will be very much in keeping with the thoughtfully progressive and inclusive experiences that have characterized our worship in the past. I hope you will make it a priority to participate in these Lenten worship experiences, beginning with Ash Sunday on March 10th and concluding with Palm/Passion Sunday on April 14th.
 
Gary and I would both appreciate your comments, questions and criticisms relative to this Lenten worship experience. We are always open and actively seeking ways to create worship experiences that are relevant and meaningful to those who participate.

The Truth that Sets Us Free

posted Feb 6, 2019, 8:34 AM by Cindy Tidball

In a rambling discourse involving both teaching and dispute with temple authorities, the writer of the Gospel of John records the following (John 8:30-32):

While he spoke, many became believers. Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you live according to my teaching, you really are my disciples; then you’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


Later, in the trial scene just before his crucifixion, John describes the following exchange between Pilate and Jesus (John 18:37-38):

Pilate said, “So you’re a King?”

Jesus replied, “You say I’m a King. I was born and came into the world for one purpose – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who seeks the truth hears my voice.”

“Truth? What is truth?” asked Pilate.

(from The Inclusive New Testament, ©1996 by Priests for Equality)

We live in an age operating under the common assumption that all truth is relative subject to various personal and cultural perceptions, an age in which many cultural institutions that have professed to embody truth have crumbled under the scrutiny of those they had oppressed. Thus, the truth behind the patriarchal family has been found wanting as its abuse of women and persons of non-traditional sexual identity has been acknowledged. The truth behind the Blessed Community of the Church has been found wanting as its abuse of children and subjugation of women has been acknowledged. And the truth of the righteous American government has been found wanting as its complicity in everything from slavery to genocide to the rule of foreign dictators has been acknowledged.

In this cultural truth vacuum, in which our current President is completely at home peddling whatever comes into his mind on any given day as truth, I believe there is a deep yearning for truth – a truth – the truth – something that will form a solid basis for a life well lived. So I was excited to reacquaint myself with this song by John L. Bell of the Iona Community, “The Truth that Sets Us Free.” I think it’s worth the three minutes it will take for you to listen to him sing this song in his lovely Scottish brogue at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCjGT5eXDgI%20%20.

The Praise Singers and I will use written meditations and a number of songs during worship on March 31st to try to add more concrete meaning to the thoughts expressed in Mr. Bell’s song. I will write the meditations over the next several weeks. If you have ideas I might include, please drop me an email at dave@peaceumc.com to share them with me.

Requiem for Advent?

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:22 AM by Penny Skildum

When I was a child, the arrival of the Sears Toy Catalog at our house each year in late September was greeted with much excitement. My three sisters, by brother and I examined the catalog in great detail. There was much discussion among us about the chances of getting any particular item for Christmas based upon past experience and relative cost. We developed detailed lists with page references for my mom (somehow we knew she was the real local Santa agent). We were certain that Christmas was all about the presents. Sure, there was a baby and a manger and shepherds and wise men (definitely men). We even did our own Christmas pageants at home some years (in bathrobes, of course). But that stuff was all window dressing for the real event – Christmas morning and unwrapping presents. We knew that was what Christmas was really all about. I don’t recall anyone ever teaching this to us. We absorbed it. We were immersed in it. It became part of us as easily as the air we breathed.
 
Theological reflection began creeping into my life in my teen years. I was introduced to the season of Advent as I journeyed through various college level experiences. Much to my surprise, I discovered that the four weeks before Christmas (which was not even supposed to start until December 25th) were designed largely for introspection. They were to be weeks where Christians were given an opportunity to ponder the realities of their own individual lives and of the rings of communities that rippled out from them. These realities could be brought into God’s presence so that we could discover how God might be able to break into them anew – how God might be able to partner with us in new ways to re-energize us both as individuals and as communities. There were readings from our sacred story to help us – even songs for us to sing, but most important was time – time for focused attention – time for pondering and preparation. The assumption through it all was that we really don’t know what Christmas is to be about this year, but if we are honest, if we take time, we can learn and thus we can celebrate truly when it comes.
Sadly, while the following years have not diminished my belief in the importance of the observance of Advent, they have significantly eroded my ability to take time for that observance. The cultural pressure to make the entire time period from Thanksgiving through Christmas Day one long Christmas party centered largely around the Christmas priorities of my childhood has taken its toll even on the way that the church celebrates Christmas, and often chooses not to observe Advent. In my more despairing moments, I feel that Advent has died – hence the title of this short article.

Yet, I am nothing if not stubborn! I squirrel away tiny moments for Advent contemplation on my bike rides to and from work, as I push a vacuum across manifold square yards of carpet and wash the dishes each evening. And I try to protect my fifteen minutes each morning for the wonderful study material that has been saving my life since I discovered it many years ago (see https://educationalcenter.org/ for further information if this interests you). In these moments, sometimes startling Christmas images come to my mind – the staff of an immigrant detention center subverting the terrorizing intent of family separation by creating spaces of true welcome for frightened children and actively trying to help distraught parents to reunite with their children – small groups of people in ISIS controlled territories who, at significant peril to their lives, find ways to hide and protect from destruction the books that carry centuries of their religious tradition – the patient workers in the Gaza strip who strive to help Jews and Palestinians to see each other truly, as vulnerable human beings in need both of dignity and protection. In my mind, these fresh images become commentators on the well-worn nativity stories of Luke and Matthew in order that I might learn how to celebrate Christmas anew this year.

And as often as I can, I pause to reflect on words that came to me years ago. I wrote them down in the form of a poem at the time to share as an Advent gift for a good friend. Later, I framed them so that we could put them up in our house along with our Christmas decorations. I’m honestly still not sure I know all of what they mean. But they remain for me another of my subversive tools – to keep Advent alive – to delay the time for an Advent Requiem.
Advent Coming/Waiting
Attend not the dull, methodical ticking
of seconds, minutes, hours and days.
The passage of time, on human clocks
has only to do with idolatry
arrogance and pride.
To pile hours on days, weeks on months
that they might add up to Life
is to use a calculus foreign to the Spirit,
ever-present at all points
as the hands sweep ever on
round and round.
Foolish, then, are we to await any particular point,
believing it a larger significance;
a more satisfying event.
For God floods all of existence with Spirit-presence,
yearning only for proper attention:
the unconsumed burning bush;
the still, small voice;
the birth of a child.
And only the faith to live
by the light of that presence
is needed
for the wholeness of God
to pour once again
into any human spirit,
smashing the life built of blocks of time
in the drenching flood of Life; time-less in time.

Great Music Opportunities in November and December

posted Nov 5, 2018, 9:01 AM by Penny Skildum

There’s a great deal going on musically here at Peace over the next two months. There are many ways to be involved. Read on – mark your calendars – participate – enjoy!
Rehearsals for Christmas at Peace choir start October 31st.
Every year, the Celebration Chorale welcomes seasonal singers to help with the special music for Christmas at Peace. Rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings, 7:15-8:30 pm, October 31st, November 7th, 14th and 28th, December 5th and 12th. See below for details about Christmas at Peace Sunday. Let me know if you have any questions dave@peaceumc.com . It’s nice if you tell me in advance that you are coming, but it’s also Ok just to show up at rehearsal. You don’t have to be able to attend all of the rehearsals to participate.
All of Us, Northern Lights Chorale Fall Concert, Sunday, November 11th, 3 pm
We’re going to put all of our sanctuary chairs back in the sanctuary for the large crowd we anticipate will come to hear this fine singing group. The Northern Lights Chorale, which celebrated its 10th season last year, has been using our sanctuary as their regular weekly rehearsal space since the fall of 2017. These 70+ singers have a beautiful sound. You’ll enjoy hearing them in our very own sanctuary. Admission is free. An offering will be taken during the concert. More information at http://www.northernlightschorale.com
Twin Cities Bronze Christmas Concert, Sunday, December 2nd, 4 pm
One of the finest community handbell ensembles in the country, Twin Cities Bronze uses our Fellowship Hall as their rehearsal space each Sunday afternoon. Instead of paying rent to use our facilities, this group shares their equipment with our Ringers of Peace, allowing our group to ring a full 5-octave set of handbells. Their ringing is always superb. Their innovative programming will help put you in a fine holiday mood. And they follow the concert with a decadent dessert reception! More information and tickets at  http://www.twincitiesbronze.org         
Advent Dinner, Sunday, December 9th, 6-8:30 pm
After a fabulously successful inaugural event in 2017, this event is back this year with a few new twists. We’ll still gather at 6 pm for a half-hour social time with appetizers and punch, but this year, we’ll follow this with a short time of community Christmas carol singing while the buffet is being prepared for the main course. After a hearty meal (ham, au-gratin potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans almondine and a dessert bar) the Ringers of Peace will play several selections for us and the Praise Singers will present Joy! a collection of six gospel-style arrangements of familiar Christmas songs. If everything goes our way, there will be full stage lights for this part of the program. You’ll have a chance to sing along (Silent Night) on the final number of the program.
$20 tickets will go on sale beginning Sunday, November 4th. This is a family-friendly event. No family will be asked to pay more than $80 total for their tickets. The last date to purchase tickets will be Sunday, December 2nd, so that we will have an accurate count in time to purchase food for the meal. Invite your friends to join you! We’ll make room for as many as want to come!
There will be opportunities for many of you to contribute food (appetizers and desserts) and/or to gather in the church kitchen the Saturday before the event to prepare the rest of the food. Watch for a SignUpGenius event coming to your email inbox! We are especially excited to announce that all proceeds beyond expenses this year will go to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf. The food shelf is providing volunteers to work throughout the evening so that none of our community will have to work during the event. And a special thank you goes to Valerie Roy who is serving as food coordinator for the whole event.
Christmas at Peace, Sunday, December 16th, 10 am
A long-standing tradition here at Peace, worship on this Sunday will be mostly music. Were You There on that Christmas Night? is a cantata that in music and spoken word will help us to ponder the meanings this season might have for us this year. As we did last year, we will also celebrate communion around the same tables that were used for the Advent Dinner the previous Sunday evening. Then, on Wednesday, December 19th, 6:30 pm, the Celebration Chorale will be at Johanna Shores (County Road D and Fairview) to present this same program for the residents there.

I look forward to seeing and working with many of you on these events. I hope you and your family will take full advantage of these musical opportunities to celebrate this holiday season with your faith community.

Of Smiles and Small Successes

posted Sep 28, 2018, 4:44 PM by Penny Skildum

Charles is the leader of the Weight Watchers’ meetings in our building. Charles is my favorite thing about Tuesdays. His booming bass voice and rolling laugh which seems to fill the whole building are things I look forward to each week.  I’m writing this on Tuesday, inspired by the two questions Charles asks each person who comes to his meetings: “What made you smile this week?” and “What was your small success this week?”
Antonio Trelles made me smile this week with his irrepressible smile and boundless energy – running up and down the handicap access ramp to the stage in our sanctuary. The creative miracle that is every Spirit Singer event – coming together for one rehearsal before lending our musical leadership to worship – was one of the small successes this past week as was my grandson Eddie’s first rehearsal with the Ringers of Peace this past Thursday.
I am grateful to Charles each week for reminding me it is important to name and treasure these significant small things in my life because remembering them helps me to cope with the larger ongoing challenges which I face. For instance, the Ringers of Peace said farewell to long-time ringer Barb Mons in September. We were already shorthanded. I invited my grandson Eddie to come experiment with us for awhile, to see if he wants to ring with us on a regular basis, but we could sure use another one or two people to join the group. Training is provided! We practically guarantee “make you smile” and “small success” events for people who are willing to give ringing a try. Please send me an email – dave@peaceumc.com– if you are interested or want more information.
And some of us are in the midst of planning for our second Advent Dinner (Sunday, December 9th, 6:00-8:30 pm – mark your calendars NOW!) There are a large number of moving parts to a project of this size. Many things are in the conceptual phase right now. It can be hard to see how, even if, they can all come together to make a memorable experience like last year’s event. But the potential is there. It’s exciting, and unnerving, at the same time!
I trust I’m not the only one with a life like this – big plans – major challenges – and in need of every small success and incidence for a smile I can muster to stay sane and positive. Perhaps if we are each in tune enough to the challenges and plans of those around us, and able to share our own plans and challenges with others, we will also be able to lend a helping hand where we can, and graciously receive a helping hand when it is offered. Possibly this cooperative approach to working with all of our challenges and plans will be the source of many small successes and events which make us smile.

Let It Rain

posted Sep 5, 2018, 7:27 PM by Penny Skildum

It’s literally pouring rain outside my window today as I write these words. It’s been weeks with no rain. I bet all the green, growing things are overjoyed. Sometimes my spirit feels as if it’s been weeks since it’s been refreshed and renewed. Summer in the church can feel like that. Though I have been fed by many who are present for most summer Sunday worship experiences, I confess I miss the felt presence of many others whose lives take them to other places for much, or all, of the summer months.

And I admit I still pay too much attention to the “news” (much too heavily weighted towards reporting of the strange, alarming, unusual and bizarre) for my spiritual health. Its continuous breathing of hot air all too often parches my soul.

So – as we begin another program year, and I look forward to the collaboration I enjoy with the wonderful volunteer musicians who participate in the music groups of our congregation (for details click here https://sites.google.com/a/peaceumc.com/peace-united-methodist-church/music if you aren’t already involved and want to join in the fun), I am reminded of the words of a song written by my good friend, Lyndy Zabel. They are my prayers for me – for you – that our lives may be flooded with God presence; renewed, refreshed and restored.

(Verse one)
Send your Word, Lord, send your spirit, like the wind blowing through the trees.
Send Your Power, Send Your Wisdom from above.
Send Your Comfort, send Your Courage, send Your Strength when we’re on our knees.
Send Your Spirit, send Your Blessing, send Your Love.
(Refrain)
Lord, let it rain, let it thunder in the night. Lord, let it blow through our lives.
Lord, let it shine in the dark as a guiding Light.
Send Your Spirit, send Your Blessing, send Your Love.
(Verse two)
Send Your Power, send Your Glory like the rain falling on the earth.
Send Your Mercy, send Forgiveness when we fall.
For we need You and we seek You, with souls that hunger and thirst.
Send Your Spirit, send Your Blessing, hear our call.
(Repeat Refrain)

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