This fall our worship series is entitled Reformed as we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation with a focus on various doctrines of the Reformation and what they might mean to us today. First up this morning was Soli Deo Gloria--Glory to God Alone. In my sermon prep I was reading about Johann Sebastian Bach, as he signed all his compositions Soli Deo Gloria. When Katie, my Associate Minister, asked if I'd do the conversation with the children in worship, I said I would, "And I'm going to talk about Bach." Here's how that went.
Kids are coming forward and sitting beside me on the chancel steps as I engage in some lively banter with them. Before I can begin in earnest one of the older kids asks about the picture I'm holding, "Is that George Washington?"
"No. This is not George Washington."
"No. It is Johann Sebastian Bach. Have any of you ever heard of Johann Sebastian Bach?"
"My last name is Bock," says one of the kids.
"Yes, but he spells it differently. He spells it B-a-c-h." This news is greeted by a grimace. "How do you spell it?"
"See. It's spelled differently." Then other kids start spelling their names.
"Here's another picture. It's an action shot."
"He's playing the piano."
"Actually, it's the organ. Bach composed music. He may be the greatest composer of music ever."
One kid shakes his head. "No."
"Who do you think is the greatest?"
"Okay, I like Michael Jackson too. Let's hear some Bach. Stephen [the organist], can you play us a few lines of Bach?"
Stephen plays the opening of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.
"Did you like that?"
One girl, loudly, "No!" A few yeses.
"Is it pretty?" A few nods.
"It's often played at weddings. Have you heard it at a wedding?"
Mr. Michael Jackson Fan says, "I went to a wedding last week."
"Did they play this music?"
"Did they play any Michael Jackson?"
Stephen, the organist, interrupts. "I have another piece they might like better." Plays the opening of Toccato and Fugue, very loudly. Some kids like it. One says he recognizes it. Some laugh. Some put their hands over their ears. And one girl utters a loud, primal scream.
Pastor and congregation begin cackling.
Mr. Michael Jackson Fan, "That sounded like Dracula."
"Yes, that's sometimes played in scary movies. Did you think it was scary?"
No Girl from earlier, "No."
Then I went on to talk about how Bach believed God inspired and spoke through his music and that people could experience God through music.
"What's experience?" Then I tried to answer that.
Then I asked them what are ways they can show the beauty and joy of God in their lives, and they gave good answers.