When I was a little girl, my family would sing together in church for special music. My two sisters sang soprano, mother sang alto, father sang tenor, and my two brothers sang bass. I, however, was not invited to sing with the family because I couldn’t read. “Learn to read,” said my mother, “and you can sing with us.” So, I resolutely set out to memorize the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” I don’t remember how I accomplished that, but I am sure my mother helped me. And one wonderful Sunday morning I joined my family as we all sang that hymn. I was so very proud to be part of my family!
However, I am, ironically, miserable at remembering lyrics to songs, religious or secular.
My mother was one of the song leaders in our small church in Pennsylvania. When we traveled, hymnals came along, and we sang the miles away. The "Church Hymnal," and "Life Songs No. 2" were used until "The Mennonite Hymnal" was published in 1969. After our church purchased those, my mother would hold hymn sings on Wednesday evenings before prayer meeting, so that we could all learn the new hymns. When "Hymnal: A Worship Book" was published, my mother was disappointed because it did not contain shaped notes; since she could not read round notes, she stopped leading church singing. She did not stop singing, though, even up to the last few weeks of her life.
Music has been foundational and formational in my life. I enjoy most types of music and have quite a mix of Christian genres on my Amazon playlist. When you come in my church office you might hear instrumental hymns or gospel, or rock! Depends on my mood. And you may also hear how I make up my own lyrics.
What has been foundational and formational for your faith journey? How is that different from your grandparents and parents? And, if you have children and grandchildren, how is this different for them? This would make very interesting conversations if you are gathering together for an Easter celebration.
Sunday, April 2, 6pm, we will observe Love Feast. For Brethren, Love Feast remains the profound foundational and formational act and symbol of the church’s life. Based on a literal reading of the New Testament, Brethren have shaped an agape meal or love feast, which includes a time for self-reflection, sharing a simple meal, footwashing, and communion. When Brethren gather for this special meal during Holy Week we are able to see ourselves as part of the events of Jesus’ final week with the disciples. Whenever the community gathers around the love feast tables, we are reminded of the relationship of all disciples to one another and to the Christ we serve.
You are invited to participate or observe. Delight yourself in Jesus through prayer, Scripture, meditation, simplicity, confession, community, accountability, and worship. And invite as many others as you can to this glorious feast.
I’m praying for you,