This is a great sermon offered by one of my friends and a retired minister at WPC. I'm very grateful to him and his wife for the ways they continue to minister in various ways to the congregation, to me and my family, and witness to Christ in the world.
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Robert A. Chesnut
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe, New Mexico
September 27, 2009
Pastor Chester invited me to share with you this morning the same sermon that I preached back in June at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wooster, Ohio. It’s the campus church of the College of Wooster, one of our Presbyterian-related colleges. The occasion was Jan’s and my fiftieth college reunion. It was Alumni Reunion Weekend and I was invited to be the guest preacher that Sunday. My message today is basically the same, though I’ve made a few revisions toward the end for this different context.
“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee!” There were three reasons that I chose this as the opening hymn in Wooster and again today. Firstly, the hymn affirms the themes of my message today. Secondly, it was the processional music for Jan’s and my wedding fifty years ago on June 13, a week after our Wooster graduation. Thirdly, this hymn bears a special Wooster memory for me, going back to the days of required midweek chapel assemblies in 1950s.
Chapel assemblies then were not typically religious, but the gathering did always begin with a hymn, chosen by the organist, Professor R. T. Gore. One year I recall we welcomed the Republican National Committee Chairman as a chapel speaker. The opening hymn was “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” The next year, in a show of bipartisanship, the Democratic National Committee Chairman was invited to speak. Professor Gore, however, was apparently having no part of this fair and balance approach. His opening hymn that day: “Turn Back, Oh Man, Forswear Thy Foolish Ways.”
About twenty-five years ago, after my mother died, I was looking through a personal journal in which she recorded some favorite quotations she had come across in her reading. One brief, anonymous statement read, “… (Blank) is the essence of all true religion.”