Monday, June 23, 2008

Music and Worship

All morning I have been blessed to hear the organ being played by candidates for our Organist position. Several candidates have been brought our way, and I have been privileged to hear them rehearsing for our interview. Music is a communication all its own. Certain songs/hymns are played and I’m taken back to another time. Methodists have always been a singing people.

Just recently our choir and the choirs of other United Methodist Churches performed in a tribute to Charles Wesley’s 300th birthday. It was a glorious evening at Twitchell Auditorium at Converse College. With orchestra, and narration, we were led in a beautiful trip through some of Charles Wesley’s greatest hymns. Many of you know that John Wesley, Charles’ brother, was the founder of the Methodist Church. Some say that John was the preacher and Charles the musician/hymn writer.

Music is the great gift of God. Whether it’s the gift of the birds singing early in the day or the gift of a church choir, like ours, praising God, music calls forth our deepest selves. Psalm 150 invites all creation, all who breathe, to praise God with cymbal, and strings. Charles Wesley writes: “O for a Thousand Tongues to sing, my great redeemer’s praise; the glories of my God and King; the triumphs of his grace.” I wish I had a thousand tongues, said Wesley, to give the praise that God deserves.

Several years ago, when Betsy (our oldest daughter) was in elementary school, she sang in the chorus. And, of course, mom and dad were there. I was amazed that the choir sand “religious” music. With the separation of church state and all, I didn’t think it would be permitted. But, as I thought about it later, as our Frances and Martha, sang in choruses, the best music is religious music.

Nothing is more beautiful than hearing voices crying out to God, for God, and because of God. Tom Long tells the story about visiting one of the great Episcopal Churches in New England, where the great Phillips Brooks preached. Long entered the sanctuary. It was quiet. Then, all of sudden, someone sang, “Come Thou Almighty King, help us thy name to sing…” It got quiet again. Then, the voice sang, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty…” After several verses, Long decided that this great church was so filled with praise for God that voices were there all the time singing and praising God.

Looking around, Long found the sexton on his back under the pews cleaning and polishing and singing his way around the sanctuary. Long says that it was almost as if the sexton, aware of the holiness of his task, could not help but break into hymns.

The organ is still going in the sanctuary. We are blessed with a great instrument, a great pipe organ. A pipe organ brings out all the sounds of a whole orchestra almost. It is a pleasure to hear the singing along with the pipe organ. Dale has been playing in the absence of our latest organist. We regretted losing Gregg Duncan. But, with Dale at the console, and Mark leading the choir, we have been able to go on celebrating “the Church’s one Foundation”.

Pray for the Organist Search Committee as we come now to the end of our work. Pray that God will give us insight as we take care of this important ministry of our church.

See you in church!
Dave Nichols

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Welcome

Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.
Blessings!
Dave

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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