- Ephesians 5:20
Friends of Atonement,
I admit it – I love music. This love goes way back – I found an old picture of me about 3 years old wearing my dad’s clunky headphones, listening intensely to some recording, probably on an actual vinyl record. I’ve always loved hearing different styles of songs and symphonies. I remember being so amazed at the varieties of sounds produced by voices and instruments and the magical way they fit together to form a piece of music. Even back then, I was into everything from the Beatles to Gilbert and Sullivan, and after all these years I am still a fan.
But of all the music in this world, there’s nothing that tugs on my heart strings like good old traditional Christmas carols. This Christmas season at Atonement, we sang “Silent Night”, “O Holy Night”, “Angels We Have Heard on High”, “What Child is This?”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Joy to the World”, “We Three Kings”, and many others. These melodies are so familiar, but like the Gospel story itself, they always seem fresh each time we hear them.
I’m delighted that Atonement is a place where these old hymns continue to be sung and continue to find a place in our hearts. Some churches have moved away from traditional church music, and I feel bad for worshippers who rarely hear the classic compositions that have nourished the faith of so many generations. The songs we sing in worship are more than beautiful melodies, they also contain timeless teachings and lines of devotion that you can take with you and pray during the week. All you have to do is think of the words to “Amazing Grace” or “How Great Thou Art” and pretty soon you’ll find yourself praying in your heart – addressing God with wonder and gratitude.
Each season of the church year has its own songs and melodies, its own musical mood. As the New Year pulls us out of Christmas and into Epiphany, we will be singing some classic songs like “Shall We Gather at the River”, “As the Deer”, “In the Garden”, and “Beautiful Savior.” There is a certain amount of nostalgia that is stirred up by these songs, but with the memories comes an awareness that the God who is the same through all ages continues to be our guiding light today, and that even the same old song can be made new by the way you sing it. Like Paul tells us in Ephesians, we are to make melody to the Lord with all our hearts, caught up in our thankfulness to God.
We at Atonement are so blessed to have excellent musical resources and leadership. Between Ruby and our choir, the “two Kens” – Ken Hanks our keyboardist and Ken Watts our praise band director, plus the praise band members and various soloists, we are able to present a variety of musical offerings at a level of quality that is surprising to find in a smaller church. Thanks to your continued faithful giving to God through your tithes and offerings, as well as your strong support of our ministries, we are able to give our paid musicians a well-deserved 2.5% raise this year.
Giving itself is a kind of praise. It’s easy to sing God a song, but when we make an offering we’re giving God more than lip-service. It shows that God really has priority over our lives. There’s a beautiful song called “Heart of Worship,” which goes:
I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itselfIs not what you have required
You search much deeper within through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship,
And it’s all about You – it’s all about You, Jesus
When we give to God, we are responding to the joy he gives us in countless ways. Singing hymns may take us away to heavenly places, but our giving brings us down to earth where God calls us to share His love with others.
Thanks again for all you do to praise, serve and share Jesus. Thanks for the love in your heart, and for giving more than a song to the One who gives us everything.