Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. (Psalm 100:1-2, KJV)
During Lent, as my friend Jerry Paré pointed out, we hear conversion stories meant to teach the power associated with the symbols of water, light, and new life, that we encounter as we enter into baptism and the new life in Christ. From the story of the wedding-feast at Cana, Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus, we learn of the power of God and the gift of life that comes from God alone.
During Pentecost, we learn more about the new life in Christ, and the power and the gifts we are given by the Spirit of the Living God. Among these gifts are the diversity of our voices and our ability to blend them in praise of our Lord.
When I was starting college, it was customary for student housing offices to offer questionnaires to prospective students, to match up dormitory roommates on the basis of affinity or similarity of tastes and habits. I proposed that we could simplify the process: ask each student to list his or her ten favorite albums or songs.
Of course this could have lead to an entire hall listening to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, or Stairway to Heaven or Thrasher or Heart Like a Wheel. Or Beethoven’s Ninth, over and over. Not so different from the more arbitrary process that led to the establishment of Firebaugh Hall, a cluster of residents from a small Central Valley town near Dos Palos.
And not so edifying, either, as the opportunity to hear new music, meet new friends, and begin to enjoy the actual diversity of our community.
At this writing our organist and music director, JoAn Andenes, is contemplating a survey of church members, asking each of us to list our favorite hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs: my only difficulty is that some of my favorites are going to be different in a few weeks, as we all learn new music together, from each other. I am looking forward to it, and to having my ears and my mind open to hearing a new and joyful noise made unto the Lord.
O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the whole earth. (Psalm 96:1)
for the April 2008 Gospel Grapevine, parish newsletter of St Alban's Episcopal Church, Edmonds, Washington USA