Oh friends, I told Bruce last night that “everything is changing this week!” I am back to work full time, my sweet Baby Harrison started daycare and we have two new staff members starting on Sunday. This past Sunday was Jordan’s last Sunday and we sent him off with love and music! If you follow us on Facebook, you saw that we sang Piano Man with re-written lyrics, complete with a harmonica, solos for everyone and a singalong at the end. It really was incredible!
I hope you enjoy my sermon. It really was a tribute to the work Jordan has put in at the church over the past 4 1/2 and the impact he’s had on all of us.
Good luck in Austin, Jordan! They don’t know how lucky they are.
See y’all next week. On to new beginnings …
Rehoboth Congregational Church
September 3, 2017
Thank You, Jordan
As I thought about my sermon in the weeks leading up to today, I knew I could not get up here and preach as if this were any ordinary Sunday. The truth is, today is far from ordinary. Today is a sad, but also very special Sunday for us here at the Rehoboth Congregational Church. It is sad because we are saying goodbye to Jordan, but also very special because we have the opportunity to celebrate 4 ½ years of incredible music.
And how wonderful is it that we have so much to celebrate!
The reading we just heard from Romans picks up where we left off last week. Paul is writing to the church in Rome, talking about what it means to be part of the Body of Christ. Paul had spent the beginning of his letter assuring the citizens of Rome that both Jews and Gentiles were extended the same grace; but here he shifts gears to remind them that even though God gives them grace, the way they live their lives does, in fact, still matter.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.
If you recognize these words, it is because I use a variation of them in my benediction every week. They are a poignant reminder to us that the way we live our lives matters just as much today as it did 2,000 years ago in Rome. The choices we make, the relationships we cultivate, the grace we extend and the compassion we surround others with creates and nurtures the Church Paul was calling this community to be.
In so many ways – both big and small, visible and invisible – Jordan lived out these words as he served as our Music Director at RCC. This morning I would like to share some of the ways he has impacted both the church and me – and changed us all for the better.
I will never forget the first time I met Jordan – because the next day I was hospitalized.
Now, I am confident the two are not related, but my hospitalization did throw a wrench in the hiring plans because the following week – when Jordan was scheduled to play in worship for his trial run – I was also scheduled to have a follow-up procedure done and was out of the office, which meant I did not get him the music until very late in the week.
Which brought us to Sunday morning, when I was going over the order of worship with Jordan, while apologizing profusely for being so last minute with the music, while also trying to explain the bizarre nature of my ailment without scaring him with too much personal information, but still trying to come off as a person who usually is much more prompt with worship planning and music in order to make a good impression on this prospective Music Director.
At which point, Jordan looked at me, shrugged and said, “It’s okay.”
Which set the tone for the entire dynamic of our relationship – me, the high strung neurotic pastor and Jordan, the laid back musician who effortlessly created beautiful music no matter what circumstances surrounded him.
Jordan, you have been our musical rock over the past 4 ½ years.
It is because of you that Beatles Sunday filled our sanctuary with everyone’s favorite music. You took a crazy idea and not only made it work, but produced something outstanding, with opportunities for everyone to get involved.
Your patience with our on again, off again children’s choir made way for some of the most adorable music this church has ever seen.
You used your degree in composition to put together youth ensembles that musicians of any skillset could be a part of.
You sometimes were forced to live out Paul’s words, “be patient in suffering,” when the antics of the choir tested your patience.
Your sense of humor when things went awry kept me calm and reminded me that an entire worship service could not be deemed a failure just because everyone stopped singing the hymn I picked that nobody knew before the hymn was actually over. But even more than that you never gave up on a song (or at least my vision for what it could sound like), making the choir learn said hymn so they could sing it as an introit and redeem it for me in worship the following weekend.
You never questioned my belief that secular music could very much be sacred. You brought a diverse repertoire of music into this sanctuary – everything from country to classical to gospel to classic rock to the occasional show tune (although you never quite appreciated those the way that I do) – and holy moments were created. We all loved when you played different instruments and I know people were excited when they walked into the sanctuary and saw a microphone set up at the piano, because that meant you were going to sing.
You cared about this church outside of the duties listed in the description of your contract. You showed up for suppers, missions projects and community events. Your enthusiasm for having a labyrinth in Fellowship Hall on Ash Wednesday last year was the push we needed to stop talking about it and finally do it. And your careful calculations with the diagram for the labyrinth itself were the only reason Missy Enos and I were able to figure out how to put the thing together correctly the first time.
Jordan, the music you played at funerals and memorial services ministered to families in ways you may never realize. Time and time again, I was able to sit with a grieving family who was struggling to put together the perfect service for their loved ones and say to them, “Just tell me what you want and my Music Director will make it happen.” You played and sang some of the most moving music while sanctuaries full of people cried behind you and your voice never once waivered. You never failed to amaze me with your compassion and your professionalism.
In the same way that Paul tells the citizens of Rome that the way they live their lives matters, I say to you that the music you made here at this church mattered; it made a difference in so many people’s lives. And for that, I am so grateful.
Jordan, you helped us write a really fun chapter of our story here at the Rehoboth Congregational Church and it is my hope that we helped write an equally fun chapter in your story as well. What may have started as simply a job with a steady paycheck for you and someone who could perform the duties of Music Director for us turned into a friendship that was cherished by all. Paul tells the church to, “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” and that is what we did in our time together. We wept with you when your father died and we rang the church bells when you proposed to Lauren. We welcomed your family every time they came to worship with us and occasionally coerced your brothers to join in on the musical fun. You became part of our family and the distance between Rehoboth, Massachusetts and Austin, Texas will never change that.
Friends, if there is one thing I have learned from working with Jordan, it is that the way we live our lives matters – sometimes in ways we might not even realize. And Paul’s call to the church in Rome is one that we must take seriously here, today. We must choose love, extend compassion and make charity a priority. We must believe in justice, stand up for the marginalized and create the type of peace we pray for. Like Jordan has been for us here, we must be the type of people that will have a positive and lasting impact on the world around us.
RCC, I know that change is not easy. But we will work through this transition with love, compassion, affection, hospitality, peace and hope.
For this we are called.
Thanks be to God!