Monday, January 6, 2020

All Was For An Apple

(This article was originally published in the January 2020 edition of the church newsletter.)

Were you at our 11:00 service of Lessons & Carols on December 15th? If so, you will have heard composer John Ireland’s setting of a rather unique medieval carol, which the choir sang as a response to the first scripture lesson (Genesis 3:8-19). I thought I might use this space to unpack that carol, because behind the obscure text is a wealth of theology:

Adam lay y-bounden, bounden in a bond,
Four thousand winter thought he not too long.

In other words, Adam (and his descendants — all of humanity) lay bound in the chains of sin. What does 'four thousand winter' mean? Interestingly, if we tally up the genealogies of the patriarchs and kings in the Old Testament, we end up with a span of approximately 4,000 years between the fall of Adam and the birth of Jesus.

And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As clerkes finden written in their book.

The Genesis text refers to "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil", whose fruit is popularly depicted in art and song as an apple. Clerkes are the clergy: in an age when literacy was rare, the clergy were the only ones who knew what the Bible actually contained.

Né had the apple taken been, the apple taken been,
Né had never our Lady a-been hevené queen.

In other words: if the apple had not been taken, our Lady (Mary, the mother of Christ) would never have become the queen of heaven. Although we Protestants don't revere Mary with that title, it's occasionally worth reminding ourselves that our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters do honor her in a special way.

Blessed be the time that apple taken was!
Therefore we moun singen: Deo Gracias!

The last line means “Therefore we may sing ‘thanks be to God!’” So what's this whole strange story about, anyway – God creating people in a garden, but forbidding them to eat fruit that makes them wise? In order to understand the story, let’s imagine Adam and Eve as children. We tell our children not to touch certain things (knives, for example) because they are inherently dangerous. But as children grow, we teach them to use knives safely and responsibly. Perhaps Adam and Eve would have been ready for the fruit eventually, as they grew in their relationship with God…but instead they decided to take a shortcut and seek that wisdom apart from God. In this story I hear God in the voice of an exasperated parent, saying “why couldn’t you just listen?!” But as any parent well knows, that exasperation comes from a place of love and concern for his children’s safety. Just my two cents!

Until next time,

Friday, November 29, 2019

December at First Presbyterian

December 1: Advent I
Worship with Holy Communion at 8:30 & 11:00 AM
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen

December 8: Advent II
Worship at 8:30 & 11:00 AM
(French Creek Brass Quintet at 11:00)
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen
12:00 PM Chili Luncheon in Fellowship Hall

December 15: Advent III
A Service of Lessons & Carols at 8:30 & 11:00 AM
(choir at 11:00 only)

December 17: Lunch @ First
Organ recital by Kevin Dill, 11:45 AM
with soprano Sonya Eagles-Dill
(Recital admission is free; a $5 lunch is available afterwards)

December 22: Advent IV
Worship at 8:30 & 11:00 AM
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve
Family Service at 7:00 PM
Handbell prelude at 9:45 PM
Choral Candlelight Service at 10:00 PM
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen

Dec. 29: 1st Sunday after Christmas
Worship at 11:00 AM only
Youth Sunday
Preaching: Aaron Crider

Saturday, November 16, 2019

"Shades of Time" returns to First Presbyterian

First Presbyterian Church is delighted to welcome back Shades of Time, who will perform a free concert on Saturday, November 23 at 7:00 PM.

Shades of Time was organized in 1988 by Alan Amy with the aim of bringing together alumni musicians from the Townville/Maplewood school district. Today the band comprises 15 musicians from Crawford, Mercer, and Venango counties, and plays regularly at local venues, including an annual performance at the Crawford County Fair.

The program at First Presbyterian will showcase the group’s signature mix of swing, jazz, and hits from the Big Band era, with an occasional detour to the 1960s and 1970s. Last year's concert drew a nearly-full house, so come early to find a good seat!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The organ has arrived!

September 18 was the delivery day for the new chapel organ. George and Anthony Pecoraro (Western PA Church Organ Solutions) arrived early to remove the old organ and get the space ready, with a little help from church staff Aaron Crider and Elijah Boyd.

The organ had been well-packed for its trip across the Atlantic!

The pedalboard was packed up too and had to be reattached.

All set up and ready to play! It seems very happy in its new home.

Great job, George and Anthony!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

New chapel organ on the way!

Thanks to a major gift from an anonymous donor, First Presbyterian Church has signed a contract for a new two-manual digital organ manufactured by the Johannus organ company of The Netherlands. This organ (similar to the one pictured) will replace the chapel's current Baldwin organ, which dates from the 1960s.

Kevin Dill, Director of Music at First Presbyterian, will introduce the new organ with a mini-recital once it arrives in early fall. He is excited not only to have a realistic-sounding instrument for the funerals and occasional services held in the chapel, but also to have a climate-controlled alternative for organ practice when the sanctuary is uncomfortably hot in summer and cold in winter.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Photos from Spring Ring

More than two dozen handbell ringers gathered at First Presbyterian on April 27 to ring a few pieces for each other and the public. The bell choirs represented were the Carillon Ringers from Stone Methodist (James Ross, director); the Trinity Belltones from Trinity Lutheran (Charles Orr, director); and the Liberty Bells and Agape Duo from First Presbyterian (Kevin Dill, director).

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spring Ring

Spring Ring
festive music for handbells
Saturday, April 27, 3:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church, 890 Liberty St

featured performers:
Carillon Ringers (Stone Methodist Church)
Trinity Belltones (Trinity Lutheran Church)
Liberty Bells and Agape Duo (First Presbyterian Church)
plus organists James Ross, Patrick Bier, and Kevin Dill on the 2500-pipe Schlicker organ.

Admission is free!