With Holy Week looming in near future, it may seem odd (or even foolhardy) that I have been spending the last couple of days looking beyond Easter. With Easter, we will be wrapping up a series on The Story that we began back in August. August! So what comes next?
As I’ve been thinking and praying and researching, I’ve also been thinking about the music–what we will sing, what we will play and who will play it once our fabulous music student/pianist heads off to grad school somewhere.
Most of you weren’t here when I started at the church four-and-a-half years ago. We were meeting in the fellowship hall, using a piano whose tuning was iffy at best and our only piano player was…me. And those of you who have heard me play the piano know how bad the situation had to be. For awhile, a wonderful lady named Vickey Worley took time away from her own church and came to play the piano for us, because she liked what was happening here. Eventually, God sent us Erica, who was a blessing to us in so many ways and stayed until she had to make some changes to give her life and family some balance as she began a new career in nursing. More volunteers emerged to fill in the gaps, including the Rev. Michael Vinson, who came from Conway to play for us on many Sundays. And them came our very own Bulgarian exchange student who loves playing our Faziloli as much as we love hearing him play it.
We are not what one might call a large-voiced singing congregation. There is no choir. Only a few of us read music. We are tentative with songs we don’t yet know. But we are great sports and willing to try anything–at least once. One of the great advantages our church has when it comes to music is that we come from so many different backgrounds, there is no one set of songs we regard as “sacred.” We’ve created our own playlist as we’ve delved into our hymnbook, old Gospel music, contemporary songs and even a few theologically sound pop tunes.
As our playlist has grown, our congregation has too–both in number and in spirit. Our voices have gotten stronger, and while we have certain songs that we return to again and again, we are still willing to try something new. Because we know that once we lock ourselves in to the same songs over and over, no matter how great the playlist is, our voices will begin to weaken.
This Easter, we will begin a playlist that we know well. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Bluegrass Easter Sunday will be familiar to many and a wonderful new experience for a few more. But after Easter, we begin a new playlist–moving on from The Story, embracing new mission opportunities and discerning how we will keep our baptismal promises and disciple our ever-growing group of children and youth.
We will probably never be the church with a big choir and an impressive musical repertoire. But we have great song to sing. May we sing out loud and sing out strong.