Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Easter 3
April 10, 2016
And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ (Revelation 21:5)
It was “Chestnut Central” at church today … a day when we sang three hymns between our two traditional services that are what church people call “chestnuts” … hymns that have been sung so often that they have become a little stale. I say this with some caution, because our “chestnuts” are also typically extremely popular with persons who have spent a few generations in church life. The three hymns I am talking about are Amazing Grace, Great is Thy Faithfulness, and Softly and Tenderly (sung at the late service during communion). But these hymns were different today, for me at least. Because Amazing Grace, was also played as a prelude on the piano by our Director of Music, Adam, and he played Softly and Tenderly as an offertory at the early service. I’m not well-versed enough in musical style and composition to adequately describe the spirit of the arrangements of Adam’s two anthems. It felt to me a bit like an old “spiritual” with some contemporary colorings at times. But whatever the name for it, it touched me deeply (as it did others, evidenced by the applause Adam received at the conclusion of the Prelude at the late service). These musical anthems served to interpret the entire service for me in a way that was beautiful and deeply moving. I found myself singing these “old-time” hymns in ways that no longer felt old or “chest-nutty.” They seemed to possess new potency and additional nuance that they did not possess before the start of the early service. The engagement of those hymns were the high points of the entire morning for me.
As I reflected on this experience a bit this afternoon, it struck me as a perfect model for experiencing change in a traditional environment. So often, we interpret “traditional” as being something that is “unchanging.” But things that are unchanging tend to die of stagnation … and I’m not only talking about hymns. It is the healthy evolution of those things we cherish, that tend to keep them alive and vibrant for new generations. You can apply this principle to music, Scripture, leadership, relationships, literature … you name it. Why not apply it to our faith lives, too, and all the parts of that experience that we cherish as chestnuts? So in your prayer life this week, why not invite the Holy Spirit to breathe some life into your Christian walk? Consider the possibilities that might result from “riding the breeze” of God’s spirit in the world? How might God “in-spire” some new and creative thinking in your life, along with some new experiences? What might change for you in your life and world, if you allowed God’s breath to blow open some doors to experiences you have yet to engage in your life? … Breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … breathe out …..
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. Amen.
~~ A traditional prayer for the Spirit