Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice

It is Spring. It is Easter. There is promise of rebirth and renewal in the air.

A story about St. Paul’s Chapel in downtown Manhattan caught my eye. They have resuscitated the organ at St Paul’s for this year’s Easter Service. If you are unfamiliar with Saint Paul’s, it is a small church, a chapel, and part of the Trinity Church at the foot of Wall Street some three or four blocks further south. Saint Paul’s is older than the present Trinity Church and older than the Revolution. Washington’s private pew box is enshrined within and surrounded by beautiful Georgian architecture.

Also, this stone fa├žade building from the 1770s and its graveyard would look more comfortable in a rural English town. But here it is in the middle of the most valuable real estate in the world. Some of that valuable real estate and the precious lives of valuable people got destroyed on September 11, 2001 with the attack on the World Trade Center literally across the street.

By some miracle and or the grace of God, St. Paul’s was spared that horrific carnage and destruction.

Now that the World Trade Center is slowly rising from the ashes of that day, so too St. Paul's and it’s organ are making a comeback. The wounds of that day are slowly healing and life goes on.

Near Ground Zero, organ in historic chapel 'speaks' again
A man from the Bronx who assisted the New York Fire Department in the months after the attacks remembered a time when the chapel "closed its door to souls and opened it to bodies" and the organ fell silent under the clamor of refuge-seeking firemen, police officers and other workers. He said he was attending Friday morning's rehearsal to hear the organ played for the first time.

St. Paul’s multipurpose, multitasking function after the 911 attack harkens back to a time when a church building was the center of a community’s full life and functioned as hospital or refuge when times dictated these uses.

1. Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
With exultation springing,
And, with united heart and voice
And holy rapture singing,
Proclaim the wonders God hath done,
How His right arm the victory won;
Right dearly it hath cost Him.

4. But God beheld my wretched state
Before the world's foundation,
And, mindful of His mercies great,
He planned my soul's salvation.
A father's heart He turned to me,
Sought my redemption fervently:
He gave His dearest Treasure.

8. The Foe shall shed My precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving.
All this I suffer for thy good;
Be steadfast and believing.
Life shall from death the victory win,
My innocence shall bear thy sin;
So art thou blest forever.

M. Luther 1523, Lutheran Hymnal