11-6-16 A Future with Music

Our readings today speak to anxious people, anxious congregations, trying to help them with their anxiety – anxiety about their future, anxiety about their families, anxiety about their communities. These readings are speaking to me – and my palpable anxiety. I hope you don’t need to hear this particular word from God today -that everything is going well and that no part of your stomach is tied up in a knot of anxiety. If, however, you are in any way anxious -say about a family member or your future or an election, listen for the word of God for you this day:

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17  Concerning the coming of Jesus Christ and our being gathered to meet our Savior we beg you, sisters and brothers, Don’t become easily agitated or disturbed by some prophecy, report or letter falsely attributed to us, which says that the day of our Savior has come. Let no one deceive you, in any way.  It cannot happen until the Great Falling Away occurs, and the rebel, the Lost One, has appeared. This is the Enemy, the one who claims to be so much greater than all the people call “God,” greater than every object of worship—so much so that it enthrones itself in God’s sanctuary and claims to be God. Surely you remember me telling you these things when I was with you?  But we ought to thank God always for you, sisters and brothers loved by Christ, because God chose you from the beginning—to be saved by the sanctifying Spirit and by believing in the truth. God called you through our preaching of the Good News, so that you might gain the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore, sisters and brothers, stand firm.  Hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by word of mouth or by letter. May our Savior Jesus Christ and our Abba God—who loved us and in mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope— Console your hearts and strengthen them for every good work and word.

November 6, 2016

A Future with Music

OK, let me put right out there one of the things that’s tying my stomach in knots – it’s about the music for our church. Having to hire a new music director this fall and use subs for singing and playing has given me agita, not just because it’s extra work each week, but because I know how much this church cares about music.

I have loved so much singing in the choir for the last 20 years, with so many wonderful and talented music directors. Two of them – Phil Gehman and Clyde Shive are going to be here with us later in the month to celebrate the beginning of our 140th year of ministry. They were both such a blessing to this church, it will be wonderful to have them here for the day.

I sent out this picture of Hazel Warner with our weekly mailing this week, thinking about the history of our choir. Hazel died in 2012. One of the saints of this church, she added her beautiful voice to our choir for a couple decades at least. Her voice literally reminded you of a bird or a bell, so pure and beautiful. She loved to be challenged, but when Clyde would teach us a song that had too much dissonance in it, she would let us know she didn’t appreciate it. I think about her in my anxiety because I know she would be on my case this year if she were here. She would be threatening to leave, as some others have, if the music didn’t suit her. Oh, she would let me know….

 

Paul writes to the people of Thessaloniki: “Don’t become easily agitated or disturbed by some prophecy, report or letter falsely attributed to us…” Some of us are getting agitated, worried about predictions that are not going to happen. Our music program is going to continue to be excellent. St. Luke has always invested in our music, and we want to continue to have high quality, meaningful music with spiritual depth.

We are not making the changes we are making to try to save money. We have to make sure that we continue our commitment, investment and dedication to get a new worship leader and partner in our ministry.

And of course paying for it is part of the key. We just started our stewardship campaign for this year, and folks may not be clear how important giving out of our abundance to create beauty and a place for God’s presence is. After all, we don’t have to give. There’s no requirement to give a percentage of our income to God through the church.

I tithe to God through St. Luke because it is a wonderful vehicle for me to express compassion, create beauty, nurture a new generation, and support community. I might be able to find other places that could do any one of those things better than St. Luke, but I don’t know any place better where my gifts can do all those things.

And yes, we could spend less and still have an adequate music program, but in this church we do more than is necessary – for our children, for our spiritual growth, and for our community – because that’s who we are. ‘Growing in love for life.’ Our commitment to our children, to our spiritual growth, and to our community is for a lifetime of growth and beauty.

 

We make this commitment because we are accountable to the saints like Hazel & Phil who cared about the music being the best it could be. We make this commitment to continue the work of the saints who surround us in these butterflies and in this Book of Life as a great cloud of witnesses. We carry on the legacy that they have bequeathed to us.

As Paul writes: “Therefore, sisters and brothers, stand firm.  Hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by word of mouth or by letter. May our Savior Jesus Christ and our Abba God—who loved us and in mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope— Console your hearts and strengthen them for every good work and word.”

We make our commitment to hold fast to the traditions we have received. We make this commitment for the people of our community and our children. we make this commitment for the next generation of people in this community and the next seven generations.

This is God’s good news.