February 2016 Newsletter Article
February 1, 2016, 9:00 AM

Grace and peace to y’all during this – the shortest month of the year!

Our new year is in full swing and we are gearing up for a lot of wonderful things at Redeemer. It is so much fun to see God at work in and amongst the community. From our youngest disciples to those who are so well seasoned with age.

Of course, being a new year also brings the dreaded ‘word’ among any group – new years bring change.

And Redeemer has been in the midst of some change and will more than likely experience change in other ways. It happens and there really isn’t any way to ‘stop it.’ The only constant in our lives is change.

One change in particular that we have been experiencing and in which we will experience more of in the coming months is in an area that I know many of y’all (including me!) take a lot of pride in – music and liturgy.

The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is full of sisters and brothers in Christ who are incredibly gifted in voice, song, and instrument. It is apparent as we listen to the music played through our organ, through the numerous guest musicians, our wonderful choirs, and in the voice of the congregation. It truly is a wonder to see the Spirit move through each and every one of you as you lift your voice and your instrument in praise and glory to God!

We’ve made a few changes in the liturgy of our worship – mostly of moving to a new setting for the time being, and throughout Lent we will be raising money to purchase the new (almost ten year-old) Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) Hymnal; along with Pew Bibles as well. The new hymnal that we will bring into our worship life will open us up to new hymns, new potential liturgies, and ultimately give us even more ways to give praise and honor to our Lord and God.

Of course, things will be different. Words will be similar, but tunes, melodies, and rhythms might be unfamiliar. Now, whenever we face those kinds of change there is the immediate reaction to say, “I don’t like this and because I don’t like it I won’t participate.” Raise your hand if you’ve ever had that reaction before? [your pastor raised his hand]. We do that sort of thing in many ways – not just in worship.

What I propose is that we acknowledge that things are different and then move forward to see and experience how the Holy Spirit is opening us to the wonder of God in a new way. Where in new hymns that we are unfamiliar with – if we can’t quite get the tune down – to listen to and read the words of that particular hymn and see how it connects with the lessons of the day, and connects to God’s presence in our life at that very moment. That we can listen to the beauty of those around us as we are surrounded with such wonderful praise to our God. And then – we join in because we realize again and again that we lift up praise in song to our God in thanks!

If you come to my office, one of the first things you’ll notice is a big sign that says, “Sing like nobody’s listening!” If I had the skills and the ability, I’d change one thing about that sign – “Sing like God’s listening!”

God listens and all the music, the singing, the prayer, the praise, the words that are directed to God are always a joyful noise – yes even your uncle who can’t carry a tune to save his life. It is always a joyful noise.

Sure, it may be different. A hymn may be unfamiliar. But, that’s how everything started out in the beginning. Who knows, you may just experience a new favorite in the coming months and years as we sing and use the ELW hymnal more readily in our worship to God.

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