It was your typical Tuesday, except for the atypical text message from a church acquaintance—the husband of a woman I deeply admire:“You will like this morning’s Spurgeon excerpt. Many references to gardening are in there. Blessings upon you and David this day.”Wow. So cool. I immediately felt considered, remembered, and spurred toward the Lord.Unfortunately, this type of interaction is not too typical in our PCA circles, is it? We aren’t sure how to do exactly what my acquaintance-friend did: communicate care, thoughtfulness, and honor in a respectful and appropriate way across gender or even generation. But he did it—he did exactly that. And my heart was moved toward the Lord because of the small but thoughtful act of my brother.How did he/we get to this place? To a place of safety in authentically extending the hand of friendship across genders in an appropriate, God-honoring way, encouraging the edification of all involved? Especially in this current socio-political climate of each gender elbowing the other out of the way to assert their self-importance? In our case, I’m chalking it up to church wide devotional.A couple years back, our church body began this practice, and it’s now become a significant thread in the life of our congregation—so much so, in fact, that we now refer to it as a means of grace. The brain trust of one of our associate pastors, Greg Poole, church wide devotional was born out of pastoral realization that significant numbers of Oak Mountain PCA’s flock were not spending daily time with the Lord on a consistent basis. (And sssssh, come closer: some of those numbers even represented church staff.)We needed a plan, and we needed one fast. A devotional was selected, full participation was encouraged, and before long the numbers told the story—the members of our congregation reporting time spent in daily devotion to God increased so significantly that Greg and staff were already on the hunt for which devotional to use the following year…
I recently joined the choir at church. I love to sing—in the car, in the shower, as I’m going about my tasks at home, on Sundays in church—but I have never been part of a choir. My first obstacle is that I don’t read music, but they assured me that wouldn’t be a problem. My second obstacle was that I normally teach Bible study during the same time the choir practices, but our study has ended for the year and that time is now free.
So, I joined the choir. And, oh dear, is it ever different from singing in the car! The sheet music holds a slight resemblance to the pages of the hymnals in the pews—but only barely. During the entire first practice I felt so lost. Being an alto means that I can’t just sing along with the melody, but must learn to harmonize, which sounds so lovely when it’s done well, and not so lovely when it’s not. Fortunately, I sat next to a sweet friend who also sings alto, and I followed her like an imprinting duckling.
I’m certain that if I stick it out and learn to sing with the choir it will be worth it, because I do love to sing. I particularly love hymns. Filled with scripture and sound doctrine and written to lift the heart, mind, and soul to God, the hymns of our faith are a means of reminding us of truth and encouraging us in our walk with Christ. But singing is not the only way to enjoy them.