Monday, October 26, 2009

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Brandon, Mississippi

This past weekend I took a trip up to Brandon, Mississippi, where I had been invited by Pastor Rick Sawyer of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Pastor Sawyer was heading off to speak in Missouri, and he wanted to leave his congregation in good hands. For some strange reason, he chose mine. Even so, things went well. The Word was preached. The people received the Word of Holy Absolution and the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

I knew that the congregation had done a bunch of work in the chancel area, and I knew it would be good. The chancel before had been . . . plain. It was functional, and there was no doubt that it served well.

This is the old altar with Deaconess Emily Carder (from whose blog this picture was taken) standing behind the baptismal font. As you can see, it's by no means ugly. I would have no qualms about serving in a church with this altar. I've served at numerous churches with all sorts of altars, including portable ones, and each of them demonstrates the presence of God in the midst of his people.

But through the labors of congregation members, the chancel was transformed. Many hundreds of hours of labor went into this project, and what emerged is just breathtaking.

Above is the view from the rear of the nave.

Pictured here is the chancel area. The font stands at the forefront. To the left is the lectionary book, covered with the appropriate seasonal color. The altar stands at the center, faced with icons. To the right is the lavabo, the tray for the individual cups, and what I believe was anointing oil, though I did not check. Behind the altar is a processional crucifix, torches, and a fixed wood cross.

Close up views follow:
The altar

The lectionary book

The lavabo with thurible in front

More beautiful than this gorgeous sanctuary, however, was the love I received from the people of Good Shepherd. I again stayed with a wonderful couple, Rob and Anita McArty, who welcomed me into their home, put up with my LSU fandom, and fed me as always with wonderful fare. The members of Good Shepherd greeted me with appreciation for bringing the Word and the Gifts of God to them. They told me their stories, plied me with orange juice, and laughed tolerantly as I passed around pictures of my children.

Every opportunity I'm given to preach is a blessing and a privilege, and I again thank Pastor Sawyer and the people of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Brandon, Mississippi, for inviting me in and making me feel at home. If you're ever in the area (just outside of Jackson), don't hesitate to stop in and receive the gifts of God with His people in this beautiful area of Mississippi.

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