MIdweek Hymn: “To us all, to every nation comes a moment to decide”

This past Corona Sabbath 28 online devotional was about voting, authority, and integrity. The hymn for that post was the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A friend and fellow church musician told me the hymn she often uses in association with the topic of voting is “Once to every man and nation comes a moment to decide.” It’s a GREAT text and I’m happy to have learned of the association of this mighty hymn to the topic of voting. My friend is right on target.

The original text is by James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891.

Here’s what hymnary.org says about him:

Lowell, James Russell, LL.D., was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, February 22, 1819; graduated at Harvard College, 1838, and was called to the Bar in 1840. Professor of Modern Languages and Literature (succeeding the Poet Longfellow) in Harvard, 1855; American Minister to Spain, also to England in 1881. He was editor of the Atlantic Monthly, from 1857 to 1862; and of the North American Review from 1863 to 1872. Professor Lowell is the most intellectual of American poets, and first of her art critics and humorists. He has written much admirable moral and sacred poetry, but no hymns. One piece, “Men, whose boast it is that ye” (Against Slavery), is part of an Anti-Slavery poem, and in its present form is found in Hymns of the Spirit, 1864. Part of this is given in Songs for the Sanctuary, N.Y., 1865, as “They are slaves who will not choose.” [Rev. F. M. Bird, M.A.]

That hymn text isn’t in the New Century Hymnal; however, the tune I associate with is. It’s NCH #267. But the text we’ll sing to it is found on https://hymnary.org/hymn/VU1996/694. It’s Lowell’s text adapted for more contemporary sensibilities regarding gender from the United Church of Canada hymnal, Voices United.

Sunday Morning Music: Wendeyaho

This is based on a Native American hymn traditionally sung to the four directions in the morning by the women of the community. The harmonization, arrangement, and orchestrations are my own, as well as the video performance. I’ve done several settings–orchestra, solo piano, and choir–the piano solo (with some soft string pads) is presented here.

“Wendeyaho” is often described as a “Cherokee Morning Song.” However discussion of it on the Internet indicates that the word, “Wendeyaho,” is not contemporary Cherokee, although it may have its origins in an ancient form of the language. The translation I was able to piece together from various internet sources is as follows:

Translation – We n’ de ya ho
Freely translated: “A we n'” (I am),
“de” (of),
“Yauh” –the– (Great Spirit),
“Ho” (it is so).

Feel free to download the 2 page sheet music PDF from THIS LINK so you can play it at home, yourself. You need to do some tricky shifting of hands to cover all the parts in the last two variations, but it’s doable, I promise. If you don’t want to download anything, you can follow along on this graphic below.

The choir at Lakewood UCC, St. Petersburg, FL, where I’m the music director, enjoys singing my choral arrangement of Wendeyaho. It’s very simple and effective. You can see it HERE.

Corona Sabbath 28 AUTHORITY and INTEGRITY Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

This post focuses on a story associated with Jesus that may speak to us about voting in this contentious election season.

Sue Sherwood reads Matthew 21:23-32.

Video from Sue.

Jesus entered the Temple precincts and began teaching. The chief priests and the elders of the people came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing what you do? Who gave you this authority?”

“And I,” replied Jesus, “will ask you a single question; if you give me the answer, I will tell you my authority for these actions. What was the origin of John’s right to baptize? Was it divine or was it human?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘divine,’ he will respond, ‘Then why did you refuse to believe him?’ But if we say ‘human,’ we have the people to fear, for they regard John as a prophet.” So they replied to Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said in reply, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Jesus continued, “What do you think? There was a landowner who had two children. The landowner approached the elder and said, ‘My child, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The first child replied, ‘No, I won’t,’ but afterwards regretted it and went. The landowner then came to the second child and said the same thing. The second child said in reply, ‘I’m, on my way,’ burt never went. Which of the two did what was wanted?”

They said, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “The truth is, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kin-dom of God before you. When John came walking on the road of justice, you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you didn’t repent and believe.”

Reflection from Kim on video

It’s an election year. A presidential election year. Have you noticed? When the COVID pandemic started back in March, I thought, Well, at least now we don’t have to hear about the election constantly. But as the date draws nearer, we are hearing about the election all the time.

And while I may bash the campaigning, make no mistake. Elections matter. I hope everyone seeing this post will VOTE, and encourage everyone they know and come in contact with that has breath and blood in their bodies to vote!

But, oh this electioneering! All of these claims and counter claims. Boasting and bashing. And worst of all, fearmongering.

Today we heard a story in which Jesus addresses the issue of authority. Who has authority? To whom should authority be given? Whom should we trust? How do we decide? These are the concerns swirling among the religious leaders, Jesus, his followers, and the community for whom the gospel was written. And these kinds of questions continue to confront us, especially in a presidential election year.

In this context, we are told of Jesus telling a story about two brothers. This is a story that is supposed to be enigmatic and have multiple meanings. That’s how teaching was done in that setting.

So there are these two brothers. And the father wants them to go work in the field. One brother says, Yes, of course, no problem, and then doesn’t do it. The other brother says No, I don’t feel like it, got other plans, and then rethinks things and heads out to the fields to work.

So, Jesus says, who is the better one? Whom do you trust? Who deserves authority? Well, the religious leaders stand with the brother who went out to work. The determination is made not by the promises spoken but by the action taken. So behavior, action, deeds, are the determinant. Actions speak louder than words, as we say.

So in this election season, filled with lots and lots and lots of messaging, words, words, and more words, we can think about voting for, giving authority to, placing our trust in, people who have done things for the common good. Taken action, been involved in making a difference for the betterment of all. People who have a track record of self giving service to the community. The ones who have been working in the fields.

In choosing who to vote for, we can base our decisions not on what the campaigns are saying but on the actual actions of the candidates. And, thanks to the internet we have access to that kind of information. What has the candidate actually, factually, done?

And there is something else about this story that relates to elections and voting. These two brothers. One says he will go work in the fields and then doesn’t do it. Maybe he says it just to placate the parent, get the old man off his back, look like a good son. But he doesn’t do it. That is certainly is not what we would call good character.

Then there is the other brother. He says he won’t help. Maybe he doesn’t feel like it. He’s busy. He’s mad at the dad about something else. Who knows. But then he goes out and helps in the field. Yes, he does do the right thing, but he isn’t exactly exemplary either.

So, in this story, really neither son is perfect. The ideal. A pie in the sky version of virtue. And that is something very important to keep in mind relating to voting. Despite what is said, about the candidates, boasting and bashing, they are all human. And that means none of them are perfect. None are the virtuous ideal. All are a mixture. They are all capable of doing good things as well as capable of messing things up. All are fallible. All are imperfect. All have made mistakes. They are all human. No more. No less.

I got campaign email this week from someone who is in office and would like to remain in office. And in the email, he says, “they IMPEACHED me earlier this year for being a PERFECT PRESIDENT.” [sic] Remember that story attributed to Jesus about the two brothers. No one is a perfect president. Period.

I like this story of the two brothers. While it sheds some light on voting, this story is also about the authority that we give to religion and religious leaders. The situation was a challenge to the authority of Jesus. And what comes out of it is look at what is happening. Look at what is being done. Look at the actions. In another gospel story, Jesus is asked about his standing, and in the story he says look at what you see, then decide. In the story of Jesus recruiting some fisherman to join him, he says, come and see. With Jesus, it is about looking at what he does. It is about actions, behavior, treatment of others. It’s about incarnating unconditional, universal love.

With Jesus, it is not about presenting a theological treatise or a set of rules. There is no self promoting speech to entice adherents. It’s not about a slick, packaged image and a promised pay off. Jesus simply says, look at what I am doing. See for yourself. Then decide. Decide if this is a way of life and love and joy for you and for the world.

Jesus teaches us to decide who to trust and who to give authority to based on behavior and actions not promises and propaganda. Jesus knew that who we trust matters. The consequences can mean life or death for us and for others.

So make sure to vote.


(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Corona Sabbath 28 AUTHORITY and INTEGRITY

These weeks when we cannot gather in person for Sunday worship, Lakewood United Church of Christ is providing brief weekly sabbath programs for you to listen to on your own or with others in your social isolation group. They will be posted on Friday so that you can schedule your sabbath time to suit your schedule and your spiritual inclinations. We hope these programs are of spiritual support to you in these difficult times.

The post this week focuses on a teaching of Jesus that may have a word for us during this election season.

This post includes a scripture reading of Matthew 21:23-32 by Sue Sherwood, a reflection from Rev. Kim Wells, and a musical offering from Hilton Jones. We hope this post helps to feed your spirit in these conflicted times.

You are invited to find a quiet space, inside or outside. Light a candle. Take a look around you. Breathe. Life-giving breath. Be present.

You may begin with this reading:

A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the full measure I have received and am still receiving.

–Albert Einstein 1879-1955

When you are ready, start the video below.

(For written text of the above video click HERE.)

As you listen to the music which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings that arise for you.

After viewing the music video, you are invited to offer the following closing –

Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ’s compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; yours are the hands with which he is to bless…

–Teresa of Avila 1515-1582

Breathe. Breathe again. Be filled. With the desire to trust. Extinguish your candle and engage whatever may come with a sense of peace and a desire to serve.


The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal, is to:

  • Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives and in our world;
  • Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people;
  • Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.


Weekly Update 9/23


Corona Sabbath 28

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s election season! Jesus has something to say about how we vote. Take a look at Matthew 22:23-32. Listen to this week’s Corona Sabbath. And, don’t forget to VOTE!

If you missed last week’s Corona Sabbath, the theme was remembering the founding of Lakewood UCC . Here’s the link: https://lakewooducc.org/2020/09/18/corona-sabbath-27-remembering-the-founding-of-lakewood-ucc/

Make a Difference:  Mentor a Child

LUCC made a  big difference last school year  in the lives of Maximo Elementary’s children and families.  As we know Covid 19 has changed how we do most everything.  What has not changed is the need for mentors at Maximo Elementary.  As Ms. Jones, the Family and Community Liaison, has said “Our students need you now more than ever.”   All mentors will meet virtually with their assigned student for 30 minutes once a week.   Mentors are required to register to be a volunteer and to attend a virtual workshop.   Are you available to make a difference in a child’s life?  You are needed now more than ever~ pcsb.org/volunteerregistration

www.lunchpals.org  (register for virtual workshop)       

Make a Difference:  Provide Needed Supplies
Supplies Needed:  uniforms, child masks (all masks have be store bought), hand sanitizers, Lysol spray, disposable gloves, disinfecting wipes

Supplies can be dropped off at the church on Wednesdays, 9:00am-10am and. Sundays, 7:00 pm-7:30 pm. The outside door will be open for supplies  to be placed in the cart  in the church hallway.  If you would like to make a financial contribution for supplies please send a check to the church marked “Maximo.”


Boys- shorts, pants, shirts 5T, 8,10,12  Girls- shorts, pants, dress, skirts, shirts 5T, 6T, 8, 10, 12

Undies: Boys and Girls 5T, 6T, 8,10,12

Uniform colors:  blue, khaki  (girls and boys) pants, shorts, dresses, skirt
                               Light blue, dark blue, white  All shirts boys and girls

Your LUCC Education Ministry team thanks you for all you do  and will do to help  make a difference in the lives  of children and families connected with Maximo Elementary.  

️If you have questions please do not hesitate to contact. Emily Bell (727) 692-2368                Ms. Jones (727) 893-2191  ext. 2305

Ink Cartridges

The church is collecting and recycling ink cartridges! Please save up any empty ink cartridges and recycle them at the church, there is a box in the sanctuary for recycling. The last batch we recycled we received $49.90!

Gratitude from Rev. Wells

Kim would like to thank everyone for their good wishes and prayers related to her heel surgery. The recovery process has become prolonged due to an infection.

Also, many thanks to all who participated in Kim’s birthday Zoom as well as sending cards, texts, and emails.  All the good wishes were most welcome especially in these trying times!

Adult Day Care Update

The adult day care is moving forward with mitigating the asbestos in the ceiling of the Fellowship Hall building.  To facilitate this process, some of their furnishings and equipment are now being stored in the sanctuary.  The program will open as soon as the facilities are ready.  The church is grateful to be in partnership with Neighborly Services in meeting this need in the community.  

Register to Vote

Ok.  You are probably registered to vote.  But can you check with others?  Set a goal for yourself like 2 people a day.  And ask two people a day if they are registered to vote.  Yes, with COVID, many are on restricted activities, but ask the receptionist when you call the doctor, ask the server when you pick up take out food, ask the clerk at the grocery store, ask the delivery person who brings you your medications.  Ask in an email to someone you do business with.  Ask a family member, near or far.  Try setting a goal and fulfilling it.  Or exceeding it!  It is very important to our faith and our values that we encourage EVERYONE to vote!  

The deadline to register is October 5!

Church School?

The Education Ministry Team met last week and has made some plans for the Fall.  They are reaching out to teachers and students as the school year begins.  After Labor Day, a new initiative will begin that will include all of the children and youth of the church family that would like to participate.  Grown ups, this will be for you, too!  You’ll hear more about it soon!

Zooms Ahead

All church Zoom gatherings will resume when Rev. Wells is “on her feet” again – literally!  If the church can be of help in any way, please contact the church office or Kim Wells directly.  

 Have you completed the Census?

Great!  So maybe now you can encourage others to complete the Census as well. If you would like assistance in submitting your Census information, please contact the church and someone will help you.

Sunday Evening Demonstration for Racial Justice Grows!   

The Black Lives Matter and Peace and Justice Demonstration continues on 54th Ave South each Sunday evening. This is an important way to inspire hope in the community and to work to create an anti-racist society.  

All are welcome Sunday evenings. Please note that in September the new time is 7:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the church. In case of rain, the demonstration will not be held that week. Know justice, know peace!

 Click here to see pictures of the most recent witness.  https://lakewooducc.org/2020/09/23/anti-racism-demonstration-9-20/

This Sunday

The church will not be open from 10:30 to 11:30.  The sanctuary will be open again on Sundays when Rev. Wells has recovered from surgery.  

Look for a Corona Sabbath post on Friday.  Check for it at the website – lakewooducc.org
Also, please subscribe to the website so that you receive regular updates about church life. 

Weekly Labyrinth Walks Continue

Each Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. a small group gathers at the outdoor labyrinth for a time of devotion, discussion, and meditative walking of the labyrinth.  The theme for the week is taken from the Corona Sabbath of the week before, so it is an opportunity to go deeper in the spiritual exploration of that theme for your life.  This devotional gathering is outside and physical distancing is maintained. All are welcome!

If there is rain on Wednesday morning, the gathering will be held on Thursday morning at 9:00.


Spiritual Direction Offered by LUCC Clergy Member.

In these troubled times, it is important to find ways to tend to our spiritual lives. In the Christian tradition, Spiritual Direction is one of the ways of paying attention to the spirit in our lives. A Spiritual Director is someone to talk with about what is going on in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God however we may conceive of God.

Rev. Sally Purvis, Ph.D., a member of LUCC, is a retired clergy person with training and experience in Spiritual Direction. She is offering her services as a Spiritual Director to the community. The sessions would be held on Zoom and there is no fee to be paid. Church leaders are pleased to have the ministry of the church expand in this way.

Spiritual Direction with Sally is open to anyone, not just the congregation. And it is offered to everyone whatever their spiritual or religious background or affiliation or lack thereof. Sessions are generally held once every three weeks. Spiritual Direction is not a mode of therapy. It is a process for understanding and deepening your relationship with God/Spirit in ways that are authentic and life-giving.

Sally was trained by Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual guide of the 20th century, and did Spiritual Direction as part of her professional ministry before retiring in 2015.

If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction with Sally, please contact her at
sallybpurvis@icloud.com or contact the church (867-7961 or lakewooducc@gmail.com ).

The church is very grateful to Sally for offering this avenue of support to the congregation and the community.


For the above church website links, please note the “Older Posts” button near bottom of each page.

Daily Corona Prayer


Assistance Available

If you need help of any kind – something from the store, someone to talk with, support managing during shelter-in-place, parenting concerns – please know that the church is ready and willing to help in any way needed.  This situation is trying for everyone.  You are not alone.  We’ll make it through together.  Please contact the church office (lakewooducc@gmail.com or 867-7961 or Rev. Kim Wells at wells.kim.p@gmail.com).  

Miss someone from church?  Give them a call or send a note.  Personal contact is so important when physical contact is limited.  

Music Ministry

About Hilton’s music. . . If you would enjoy hearing Hilton play more Irish folk songs, you can
listen for free at either https://hiltonjones.bandcamp.com/album/irish-
tunes or https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/irish-tunes .

September Birthdays: Kim Wells 9/19, Joanne Reid 9/22, Wilbur Reid 9/22, Donald Ritchie 9/27, and Carolyn Moore 9/30. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.

Circle of Concern: Carol Shores and family, JoAnn Reid, William Owen, Wilbur Reid, Martha Lamar, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, Dave Radens,Kim Wells, Elinor Ross, Yvonne Riesen, teachers, students, and school personnel, Vern McKinney, and all healthcare workers and essential workers. All those suffering from COVID-19.

Ed Kaspar took a fall and broke his arm.  Please remember him in your thoughts and prayers.

Claudia Rodriguez is recovering from a shoulder injury.

Please keep LUCC member, Olivia Gibson, in your prayers. She is a nurse in a COVID-19 unit in a local hospital. We are grateful for her ministry!

Recent Posts:

Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the Church Office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.