Normally closed on Sundays, the Community of Christ Temple opened last night for a special Temple Service entitled “Just. Jesus.” featuring sermons by Matt Frizzell, Dean of the Community of Christ Seminary at Graceland University, and Stassi Cramm, Community of Christ First Presidency. The worship included three songs from the Graceland Choirs, conducted by Sara Blessing with Organist Jack Ergo, both from the Lamoni campus.
At the start of the service, the Temple was silent in prayer and the choirs sang “Cry Out and Shout” (Knut Nystedt), whose lyrics became part of the service throughout the rest of the evening. The lyrics read,
Cry out and shout! Ye people of God, the Lord is strength and song. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water from the wells of salvation.
Before the heart of the evening began, the choirs and members of Graceland’s percussion program performed “Gaudete!” (arr. Michael Engelheart). The Latin translates to:
Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary; rejoice! It is now the time of grace that we have desired; let us devoutly return songs of rejoicing. God has become man, and nature marvels; the world has been renewed by Christ who is King. Therefore let our song now resound in purification; let it give praises to our Lord; Salvation to our King.
The sermons by Matt and Stassi were about, in short, the “difference” between justice and righteousness, and Matt went in depth about the fact that these two terms cannot be separated when being looked at through scripture. Often, people choose to use righteousness when referring to doctrine and then justice when referring to political and secular ideas, but this cannot be true because justice “only exists” in context with Jesus.
Stassi went into the title of the evening, “Just. Jesus.”, and how the word “just” can be used as an adverb and an adjective. The term can be both “only Jesus” and “fair Jesus” at the same time. The two meanings don’t have to be looked at separately to be valid.
After the main event had ended, the choir sang “Ubi Caritas” (Ola Gjeilo) as the congregation was invited to light candles in the spirit of justice throughout the world and then write injustices and justices on the walls.
Where charity and love are, God is there. The love of Christ has gathered us together. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Let us revere and love the living God. And from a sincere heart, let us love one another. Amen.
Professor Sara Blessing told the choirs that the most important lyric to take think about when singing Ubi Caritas was the sentence “And from a sincere heart, let us love one another”, and that seemed to be a simple, warm end to the entire evening. People gathered at the Temple on a cold, rainy night in the middle of January to feel that community and love, and the choirs were blessed to participate in such an event.