Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Excellent Service

This morning we attended services at the First Presbyterian Church of Topeka. It was a great experience. We arrived early enough to hear the choir reviewing its morning anthem.

The service began with almost 15 minutes of announcements and chatting--a lot because this is their time of year to make a financial pledge. The "real" service finally began with an organ voluntary "If You but Trust in God to Guide Thee" by Bach, as a young boy processed down the aisle and lit the candles on the altar. After the call to worship, the full choir processed down the aisle to the singing of the hymn of praise, "Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above" (Mit Freuden Zart), vigorously accompanied by the very fine pipe organ. This all is about enough to make me feel blissful!

The whole service was organized traditionally: We Gather in God's Name; We Confess our Sins and Receive Forgiveness (a service increment sadly neglected in so many contemporary services); We Proclaim God's Word; We Respond to God's Word; We Go in God's Name.

Before the sermon the choir gave a spirited rendition of "Go Down, Moses" arr. Hayes. Two choir members later assured me that the music here is always very Traditional!--as if they were uncomfortable with today's choice.

The sermon was on Exodus 11 and 12:1-14 and was very good and Biblical. The pastor told the original happening (the first Passover), related it meaningfully to Christ, the Lamb of God, and applied it to our lives today, that is, our assurance that God is faithful to his promises, even when our lives are at their worst.

The offertory, printed on the bulletin was "I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord" by Powell. I thought it would be either an organ or piano version of the familiar chorus. Instead, a baritone from the choir got up and sang a marvelous piece of music I'd never heard before. Just a total treat!

Members were very friendly to us. Many greeted us, introduced themselves and chatted with us in the social hall after the service. One elderly woman (she and her husband are both 86, they said) was talking with us about the church's famous Tiffany stained glass windows. She led us back into the sanctuary and had us run our fingers over the glass.

The windows are very beautiful, but the surprising thing about them is that the deeper shades of colour--for instance, in the folds of a garment--are achieved by making the glass thicker, rather than painting on more colour. They were installed in 1911. I have no pictures, because I didn't take my camera along to church, but you can take a virtual tour of the sanctuary on their website at

We were glad we went. It was a good experience all the way 'round.

This afternoon we visited the Kansas Museum of History--an interesting concrete building dating from 1984 that reminded us of the University of Lethbridge. It's a excellent museum, well laid out, very thorough, giving lots of information through attractive exhibits. Jim carefully reads it all, but by the time I'm up to the 1920's I'm just gazing over the objects, reading a few of the highlights. I always finish a museum or art gallery before he does. Maybe he gets more out of it!

We ended the afternoon with a short hike through a tallgrass prairie on the museum grounds. The weather is just beautiful today, warm and fresh after yesterday's muggy high of 79ยบ.

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