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Clarice Planted — part 3 in a series

July 6, 2017

Five of us were sitting in his office at church.

Yet another meeting.

I was bored. (Imagine!)

We were planning special services for Lent, and had recapped recent history of these yet again. We sat in silence with serious faces.

I knew what was next on our unwritten agenda: it was the normal time now for one of us to wonder aloud, as if suddenly struck with the idea, if it might not be time for a change…just to shake things up a bit…to add some spice to the recipe…and I realized nobody was doing that.

The silence got heavier.

Was it my turn? Were they waiting for the new guy to read the next line in our invisible script?

I took a deep breath to clear my throat and toss out the expected Let’s Be More Clever grenade.

That’s when she did it.

She spoke, and the sun rose. Her words brought not just the dawn of a new day, but the advent of a new era.

Clarice planted these seeds in this rookie clergy: “What if we looked at the verses of the songs we sing? What if we studied the images they give us? Might there be clues to depths of meaning in what we sing? In what we say we believe when we join our voices together? Or even when we’re listening to an instrumental, and our imaginations are stirred along with our hearts?”

That was about a decade before a new edition of our official hymnal included this prayer —

Glorious God, Source of joy and righteousness,

enable us as redeemed and forgiven children

evermore to rejoice in singing your praises.

Grant that what we may sing with our lips

we may believe in our hearts,

and what we believe in our hearts

we may practice in our lives;

so that being doers of the Word

and not hearers only,

we may receive everlasting life.

— Clarice was ahead of her time.

Clarice changed the tenor of those planning meetings. We began seeing our United Methodist Hymnal as a companion to our Bible, just John Wesley had intended. The Services of Divine Worship became more, well, more worshipful.

Clarice changed everything.

Simple summary? God’s still in business.

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