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Holy Haven

Holy Haven

Like many families we gathered for the unofficial last day of summer on Labor Day.  After praying for those who labor for our country, their physical hardships, and their needs, we went to play.  Going to the Lake during the summer is a haven for our family and watching my daughter take her boys tubing, as I did with her many years ago, is such a joy.  At our haven we spend hours laughing, swimming, eating, and sometimes we just sit quietly and watch the sun play on the water.  We all need a haven—a place of escape from our busyness—a place to just “be.”  We need such times and such places to live a healthy life.

Even Jesus needed to get away from time to time.  He would steel away from the crowds, from the busyness, from the demands of daily life to find some peace, to reflect, and to pray.  I often picture him beside the lake watching the sun dance on the water, or in the hills feeling a refreshing breeze.  At such places we are on holy ground and we are blessed.

Choosing Songs

Choosing Songs

One of my favorite parts of my job is choosing music for the choirs and Praise Team to sing. I start by reading the scriptures that Karen has chosen for worship and understanding what her emphasis or theme will be for each worship service. Then I set out finding music that will hopefully deepen worshipers’ experience. Sounds pretty straight forward – sometimes it is. There are times that the obvious song jumps right out for me. More often, however, it involves looking through many songs, finding the one that has the right emphasis. For instance, consider the general term “love.” Love may well be the most sung about word in our faith. But are we focusing on God’s love for us or our love for God?  Or about our Christian love for each other, Christ’s sacrificial love, Christ’s examples of love? Singing a song with the wrong focus misses the mark, but the right song can transform worship and lift the experience to a higher plain.

Why don’t you give it a try? On July 30, our scripture passages will be Deuteronomy 23:1-7 and Matthew 5:43-48. Karen’s sermon title is “Sometimes We Must Change the Rules.” What songs or hymns can we sing that will illuminate the theme?

My Current Earworm

Earworms, those songs or portions of songs that get stuck in your head, are a bit of a hazard in my job. I often have part of a choir anthem or praise song rattling around in my head – usually something either group was working on especially hard. I don’t generally mind too much. As I sing through the song in my mind, I think about the people I was with when we sang it out loud or I think of the words to the song. I often end up meditating on the words as I walk in the woods with my dog.

Today’s earworm is Speak, O Lord, a song that is new to the Praise Team. It’s got a simple melody (perfect for an earworm) and words that express a desire to hear God’s direction in our lives. We started working on it this week and will sing it with the congregation in October

Let me know if it gets stuck in your head, too.

Hymn Writers Tell Their Stories

Imagine that your job is to run the music program at your church. You are good at it and you love your job – but you have to admit there are little problems here and there that get in the way of a smooth worship service. Then imagine your boss (i.e. the priest) gets so frustrated with the glitches that he declares “no more music.” What do you do? What’s your purpose now?

On June 5, when we go to our summer worship schedule (one 9:30 AM Service) the music program will present A Festival of Hymns: The Writers Tell Their Stories. You will have the opportunity to “meet” the songwriter that lived through that experience and see how he handled that bizarre situation.  You’ll also meet other hymn writers that span the range of Christian song – from 340 AD to the present. You’ll have a chance to hear about their struggles and inspirations.  For instance:

Who fought off attackers by singing hymns with “frightening fervor?”

Who was originally trained as a lawyer?

Who was blind from birth?

Whose main inspiration for writing was dissatisfaction with the “old style” of singing?

After we hear the writers’ stories we will sing one of their hymns/songs.  Expect a music-filled service featuring the Chancel Choir, Praise Team, Brees Bells and most importantly, the congregation.

Spread the word to come sing on Sunday, June 5 at 9:30 AM!

(originally published May 25, 2016)