Hymns Connecting Generations

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord - Ephesians 5:19 NKJV

It is almost Thanksgiving, which in my calendar means slowly switching from the hymns to Christmas Carols. But before bidding adieu to In the Garden, How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace, I wanted to take a moment to write about the connecting power of hymns. First of all, I did not grow up listening to hymns. To be sure the choir sang something at the Congregational church where I attended with my family, however I had no idea what they were singing. The ancient stone building echoed so that I assumed they might have been singing in Latin. The first time I heard a hymn I could understand was when I was nineteen years old. As a child of the 60’s I grew up listening to the Beatles, Stones, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Joni Mitchel. So, when I gave my life to Christ at a Pentecostal church, I was amazed to hear their camp meeting hymns along with the early praise choruses that eventually led to the contemporary Christian music of today. The most delightful thing of all was that everybody sang. Old folks and young folks all looked like they were having a great time. The music helped to connect generations and some of the rowdiest of the bunch were often the old timers! A hearty HAAAALEEEELUUUUJAH! would sometimes suddenly arise from the sweetest old lady or grey-haired saint, right in the middle of a verse, causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand up!

I remember we had two song books in those days. There was a large, hard covered hymnal as well as a small soft covered chorus book. When the worship leader would call out, “Please turn to number 439”, I always marveled at the number of songs between those covers. Today, I realize that just counting Charles Wesley and Fanny Crosby, there are thousands to choose from, and when you sprinkle in America the Beautiful, Christmas carols, Easter hymns and Amazing Grace, it makes you realize that what we hold in our hands is only the tip of the iceberg of what has been left to us through 2,000 years of church history. And these songs connect us, not only to the generations who sit in the seat next to us, but also to everyone who has ever put their faith in Christ. We are reminded that Martin Luther, John Newton, Saint Patrick and Isaac Watts are still living and singing with us in the unseen choir loft of Heaven. More importantly these precious words and melodies of our “Rock of Ages cleft for me”, who is “Perfect in power in love and purity.” also connect us to Jesus Christ. They remind us that “We have decided to follow Jesus” and that we must “Surrender all to Thee my precious Savior!” and will joyfully “Crown Him with many crowns!” They tell us about “What a day that will be, when our Jesus we will see!” and that forever “He will walk with me and talk with me and tell me that I am His own!”

Fighting For Our Family

Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14b ESV

I sometimes enjoy watching the HGTV shows like “Hometown” and “Love it or List It”. My favorite moment in the half hour shows is always the “Reveal”. That is when the happy couple is lead into their newly remodeled home and shown all the amazing improvements, while uplifting music plays in the background. One part we don’t notice is that most of the furniture we are seeing, is actually just staged and that if they want to keep it all, they will need to pay a bit more. While that technique is great in selling television shows or homes, it is not so great with families. In the old days, that is what we did when company came over and today it is more like posting pictures on Facebook of our family vacation or our smiling grandkids at the beach. But the real life, messy scenes that never make it to social media are our arguments, heartbreaks and tears that lurk behind every one of those staged images. But God is not shocked, offended or pushed to the brink of unfriending us when we are going through a family crisis. Instead, it is during those dark and terrible times that God chooses to teach us that He wants us to stand and fight for our family and that by His grace we can learn to love as He did.

We fight because a family is worth defending
We fight because we love them too much to quit
We fight because no one else will come to their aid
We fight because family is a precious gift from God
And God expects us to lay down our lives
As He did His
And then stand strong in His love
When everyone else has walked away