“Come to me. . . and I will give you rest.”

For the past eleven years at the Old Dutch Church, worship has featured the “Seven Sundays: A Celebration of Music in Worship”. Today was our first Sunday in the 2023 series and our featured artist was singer/songwriter Fred Gillen Jr. Moving our summer worship from our Tarrytown church to the Old Dutch allows us to step away from the busy activities of the “school year” and retreat to a quieter space with a change in liturgical style that makes room for more reflection. As Fred was performing the prelude piece my thoughts were drawn to how small our congregation has become. We still have a sizeble group that joins worship via live-stream, but it’s hard to “feel” the community right now. I thought about the 17th & 18th century tenant farmers who worshipped here in a time when the Sabbath was truly a day of rest from their hard labors and an opportunity to meet and mingle their neighbors. Reading their headstones in our burying ground tells stories of heroism, death in childbirth, murder, loss of life in epidemics, and the hope of heaven.

I’ll take your burdens
I’ll take your debts,
I’ll take the heartache
you haven’t had yet
bring me your deepest fears
tell me your darkest sins
I’ll help you see the light
I’ll help you love again (1)

I realized how tired I am and how monotonous the rhythm of life has become in my Covid and post-Covid world. My Sundays singing in the choir and seeing church friends has been one of few things that breaks the tedious repetition of work, go to the doctor’s, eat, sleep, repeat. Aging in America is not what I thought it would be. I am more fearful of the future than I have ever been in my entire life, and more in need of the reminder that I can’t do it all by myself. Church reminds me that we are here to help eachother and as Fred sang for the children:

We’re gathered here today
to do a sacred thing
sing sing sing, sing sing sing

Saint Augustine says somewhere
that singing is praying times two
and whenever angels show
it always seems that’s what they do

We’re gathered here today
to do a sacred thing
sing sing sing, sing sing sing (2)

In his sermon today, Pastor Jeff addressed the exhaustion we all face with the demands of the workplace, schools, family, and I would add social media. Our days are full of activities and planning activities, but I wonder are they full of satisfaction, or just a checkmark in the long list of daily tasks before we close our eyes to toss and turn all night.

through years of regrets and chapters not written yet
my hands are rough and I’ve lost my band
my voice gets lonesome singing in the night
I need the feel of someone’s tender hand
I’ve wandered forty days in the desert
and found the oasis just before I died
I’m pitching my tents in the land of hope
I’m done with wandering, I’m coming home (3)

I love this lyric, “I’m pitching my tents in the land of hope”.

The Old Dutch is a small church, a far cry from the cacophony of mega-churches that boast humongous memberships and entertainment style liturgy. For over 340 years members of this congregation have been pitching their tents in the land of hope. What we lack in numbers, we make up in longevity.

Next Sunday, the music of long-time Old Dutch friends Carla and Keyes will accompany our worship. The Service begins at 10:30am.

Original songs by Fred Gillen, Jr.
1) “Come and See”
2) “Sing, Sing, Sing”
3) “Land of Hope”

Deborah McCue

Daughter of a hula dancer and WWII vet. Born and raised on the East Coast and brought up by my Hawaiian grandmother. Mother of 2 married daughters and wife of a guy who still keeps me laughing after 38 years of marriage. Tutu to a lovely grandson! Docent at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow - think Legend. Member of the Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns