The important thing about Vespers is…

By Margaret Wise Brown

I used to read The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown to my first/second/third graders and then we would create our own “important’ book.  It was a language arts activity we all loved and it was loaded with learning opportunities.  In case you don’t know that book, here is an example of one of its pages:  The important thing about grass is that it is green.  It grows, and is tender with a sweet grassy smell.  But the important thing about grass is that it is green.

Of course, what each of us thinks is important about a particular thing varies and therein lies the possibilities for all sorts of discussion.  For instance, Nyel might say “The important thing about grass is it needs to be mowed.  It can be a lawn and it can be soft to walk on.  But the important thing about grass is it needs to be mowed.”  Well… you get the idea.

Yesterday at Vespers as I listened to retired Episcopal priest Irene Martin talk about Canada Day, it suddenly struck me that one of the ‘important’ things about Vespers is that the officiant’s message is often ‘the best of the best.’  Usually, it’s a one-time opportunity for the minister – one voluntary twenty-minute service out of the summer – a chance to make an important point with no danger of the repetitiveness that must threaten to creep in to those Sunday-after-Sunday sermons given to their own congregations.  (Note to self:  ask one of the visiting pastors if that seems true from their point of view.)

Church and Steeple

The Rev. Irene talked about Canada Day.  I’d wager that most of us listeners were probably unaware that Canada celebrates its birthday just three days prior to our own Independence Day.  But then, Irene Martin was born in Canada…  She talked specifically about the border our two countries share – 3,987 miles of it!  It’s the longest undefended border in the world and she pointed out what a marvelous and important achievement keeping it that way has been for both countries.

It wasn’t a political message.  She pointed that out at the get-go.  But, I’m sure there wasn’t a listener among us who didn’t think about the possibility of political pressures that could be brought to bear on that long expanse if we do not stay ever-vigilant.  It was a topic we may not have had the opportunity to consider, had Irene Martin’s Vesper date been different, or had she not be born in Canada, or had borders not been a world-wide topic lately.

‘The important thing about Oysterville Vespers is each Sunday’s unique message.’ That would be the first page in my book.  What about you?

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