It's one of the ironies of my work at Bethany, but the more time I spend planning and preparing and thinking about church music in any given week, the less I find myself blogging. I suppose it's in part because I'm busy daydreaming and forming ideas, which doesn't always lend itself to sharing more fully-formed thoughts, the way I like to on this blog. But as I was reading the text of this week's closing hymn, "The Church of Christ, In Every Age," its message of continuing change and mission and rebirth only seemed to urge me to keep working:
The church of Christ, in ev'ry age
Beset by change, but Spirit led,
Must claim and test its heritage
And keep on rising from the dead.
Discussing our musical heritage (while hopefully keeping it new and fresh) could be one way to describe my goals in writing this blog. But the hymn presents a message that all members of all churches need to heed. We have hundreds of years of heritage that we must not only honor and claim as our own but continue to test and question and refresh. I find it particularly interesting that the rest of the hymn's text portrays the need for engagement "across the world" and "across the street." The hymn is sometimes subtitled "The caring church" because it advocates direct engagement with problems in the world around us.
The theme of the week is justice, which requires our engagement and action. Notice how many of our hymns mention a desire to act as a servant leader, not preaching or judging but demonstrating and encouraging a joyful Christian life. In the words of this week's choir anthem "Let All the World in Every Corner Sing." We can tackle difficult problems with joy and hope and songs of praise. And we can even find time to engage with in those activities amid our busy lives and our work planning for the weeks (and holidays) ahead.