As a student of History, one of the things I have learned to do is listen when the elder members of our culture are speaking. There is so much wisdom that we often miss if we ignore what they are teaching us.
I have recently learned that many older rural places of worship focus on singing the older style classical hymns. As a young man, I often shut down when people started singing hymns. They just didn’t relate to me. My mind was focused on loud obnoxious music (come on, it was the nineteen eighties) and I had no interest in listening to old boring hymns. Till one day, something happened.
God Got a hold of my heart.
I was a teenager, and we had taken a week long trip to mid Ohio to visit with my grandparents. Grandpa Charles was one of my favorites. He was a pig farmer. It was always a blast for a city kid like me to be able to go out in the barn with the stinky dirty pigs. I always had fun on grandpa’s farm. One evening after dinner, Grandpa Charles & Grandma Edna sat at the piano in their house and began singing several old hymns together. I remember being overwhelmed by the sound. Not just the music, but the way that the song actually impacted their hearts as they sang. Sometimes, Grandpa would stop and wipe away the tears on his cheek as he began the next hymn. To me they were boring songs, but to them, they were anthems of their faith.
Time Marches on.
As the years rolled on, those moments never left my heart. Even today, years after my Grandpa Charles has passed away, the sounds of those songs still linger in my head. I remember sitting in the pews of their old Quaker church, humming along as they sang. It’s funny how little things like that will impact your life.
Now, even though I grew up listening to grandpa sing the old hymns, I am a musician who loves the power and passion of the current worship music that has come out of the larger more contemporary churches. It’s incredible powerful music that the Holy Spirit uses to unite thousands of people in worship. Absolutely amazing.
The Small church I am currently serving is made up of mostly elder saints who dearly love the lord, and they are motivated to see their church grow in amazing ways.
Just the other day, one of our folks brought me a copy of an old hymn called “They will know we are Christians by our love.” He lovingly shared what it meant to him when he was a young man, and how it had helped teach him during his younger years. As he was speaking, I was instantly taken back to my Grandfathers house, listening to him sing that old hymn.
‘We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.’
It made me think. Could you imagine a place, where folks old and young could gather together and worship, singing modern powerful songs and the hymns that carried our faith for so many years together?? Where we could unite, and the one focus would be on bringing glory to God. Where we could be a part of the greatest move of evangelism the world has ever seen.
I can. It’s called The Church.
Lets work this year to breach those barriers that we build in our churches. I encourage you to listen to the senior saints in your life. Don’t miss what they are saying! Most times, there is so much much wisdom that they have to share, that we inadvertently ignore. Let’s practice the Love that Jesus taught about. Then and only then, will we overcome the cultural misunderstandings in our communities.
Yep. That’s what’s been on my heart.
What do you think??
Till next week,
1 John 3:18-20 The Message (MSG)
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.