Dear Friends in Christ,
It has been very busy this week at Gustavus Adolphus and busy with mixed emotions. On Saturday I will be playing two very special services - a funeral in the morning to celebrate the life of Adeline LaPorta and a wedding in the afternoon celebrating the love of Scott Perrucci and Emily Taylor. Both events are filled with varying degrees of emotions and lots of music. Sunday we will hear the wonderful message of Jesus telling us to love God above all others and your neighbor as yourself. All weekend we will be celebrating major 'life milestone's and both days will have lots of music specifically chosen by the couple, Adeline's family, and by me and Pastor Tom to enhance these very special and different worship experiences.
One of the continuing struggles of the church, and I would imagine that this has been the case since the beginning of time, is how to stay relevant in current times. Lutherans believe in the power of a relationship with God that evolves and grows and in the wonderful gift of Grace. We always have and probably always will. We heard Pastor Chris talk last week about his trip to Chicago and how he spoke about challenging us and the church as a whole to start building one-on-one relationships and to focus on building nurturing communities. I love it when he said that he has no interest in playing church or running churches but would rather be the church.
Ok. So how does this relate to our music. Lutherans have a very strong tradition of singing and we are known as the singing church. But beyond that very strong music component inherent in our 'Lutheran DNA' I am a firm believer in the binding and healing power of song. We all come to 155 East 22nd Street on a Sunday with different backgrounds, political believes, varying income levels, different educational backgrounds, tastes in music, speaking different languages etc. But when we sing that first hymn we become one voice. In my humble opinion, this is how we stay relevant. Hymns have wonderful texts that have survived through the ages and serve as great learning tools alongside the lessons we read each week. The melody's evoke all sorts of emotions that spoken word just can't muster. Some of our hymns are old, some new, some written out of a place of strife by poets and musicians other tunes just because they had a song in their hearts. Some hymns were written here in America and others overseas. Some are tricky to sing because they have dance rhythms from days of old and others make you want to stomp your feet and clap your hands. Our music is as diverse as the people that walk in our doors and we have the luxury of having all of this contained in one, red book. Amazing.
Two closing thoughts. In honor of both the wedding and funeral that took place at GA on Saturday, the music for the prelude, communion meditation music and the postlude will be taken from the hymns that we sang at the services. If you find yourself struggling in faith or struggling with how the church is relevant in your life and the world or if you just can't bring yourself to open your Bible or say a prayer I would encourage you to consider looking at a hymn. Read the text or sing the tune and just let it wash over you.
"Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee. How great thou art, how great thou art.”
Peace, Gretchen Mundinger