Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
In confirmation class last Wednesday one of our students was going through a tough time. But, even in his distress, when discussion about the lesson started, he pitched right in. One of the questions for students in this lesson was, “Where do you find peace?” We wanted our students to further consider how Jesus gives peace. This student opened his heart and talked about how listening to music soothes him in time of trouble. I was able to share with him how the music of the young shepherd, David, calmed the troubled heart of King Saul. (1 Samuel 16:23)
We then discussed in class the peace that Jesus offers. When the rest of the world is against us Jesus brings peace to our lives because God’s love in Jesus is sure and is eternal. “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
We also taught our class to see how God’s forgiveness, through Jesus’ death on the cross and through His rising again from the dead, brings peace to people troubled by their failures and their sins. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) So, in confirmation class we discussed all those ways that Jesus brings peace to our troubled lives.
But, let’s consider again the answer of that one student. He found peace by turning to music. Perhaps you have also experienced that music can be a place where we not only hear words of peace-giving truth, but where the tune of the music can also touch our heart, and enter our soul.
Actually, many of my favorite songs and musicians have come as recommendations or gifts from others. Pastor Corbie Cross once gave me an album from Keith and Kristyn Getty, “In Christ Alone.” That music lifts my spirit and points me to Jesus. St. John member, Dave Ianson, once gifted me with an album from Emmy Lou Harris, “Angel Band.” This simple country music shares deep truths about the love of God for us. Long time St. John member, Bill Weith, once suggested I listen to the British boys choir, Libera, sing “Going Home.” Boy, does that song feed faith in my heart. Kathy bought me an album of their music. (You can listen to this song on YouTube.)
When Pastor David Boedecker was a fellow seminary student with me, he shared his personal practice of listening to The Messiah each Christmas season while eating a pomegranate. I’ve learned to appreciate both. I also like to listen to Handel’s Messiah during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday! Andrew Bosela attended a Kaleidoscope Christian youth camp I helped lead. This former student recommended the music of Fernando Ortega. I often listen to Ortega’s music in the morning while I clean the kitchen and prepare breakfast. I have Ortega’s albums “Hymns and Meditations” and “The Shadow of Your Wings – Hymns.”
I have also discovered other peace-giving Christian music on my own. Twenty years ago I bought Twila Paris’ album “A Heart that Knows You.” This album is still one of my favorites. I like Alan Jackson’s country music. But his album of Christian hymns, “Precious Memories” has been one I’ve shared with others. And recently I bought music of Joey and Rory Feek. Their album “Hymns” brings me the quiet peace of Jesus in a loud and troubling world. The Christmas album by the Valparaiso University Chorus, “Behold What Wonder” helps me to truly enjoy the Christmas wonder of the gift of God’s Son! And Johan Sebastian Bach . . . Ah, Bach!
The world around us can bring a lot of noise into our lives. That noise can come from commercials, or from political rhetoric, or even from people who are angry, or hateful, but do not know Jesus.
What is your favorite Christian music? Does the singing of Amazing Grace stir your soul? It is true, the grace – the undeserved love of God in Jesus, is AMAZING. But, when put to music that truth seems to me to sink even deeper.
In Psalm 96 the Psalmist calls us to “1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” But then, inspired by God, the Psalmist tells us we are not alone as we sing praise to God. All creation joins in praising God through it’s songs. “11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; 12 let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; 13 they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.”
Our confirmation student was drowning out the noise in his world with music. I encourage you, not just to drown out the world’s noise. I encourage you to bring the peace we have through God’s love and forgiveness in Jesus into your lives. I too have found that Christian music helps me to know God’s peace!
A Child of God, Thankful for God’s Peace Found in Christian Music,
P.S. Here is a picture of closing prayer at confirmation last Wednesday. https://photos.app.goo.gl/iCPhvBt6KDu1P4ZR7
P.P.S. Here are some pictures from a mid-October fishing and discovery trip. As you know, this is late in the year to be able to be out on the rivers. https://photos.app.goo.gl/C5XkWaffRkHAYVAF6
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.