I grew up in a United Methodist Church. Every Sunday, we were there. My brother sat between my parents and I usually sat next to my dad. Apparently we couldn’t be trusted to sit next to each other! Early on, we would pass the time by doodling in our bulletins. Eventually, the hymnal became more than a firm surface to support our games of tic tac toe. We would hold our hymnal — open to the correct page — and stand with the congregation for the hymns. And over time, we grew out of only listening and began to sing along.
For my entire upbringing, those hymns washed over me every Sunday. The tunes were comforting and the lyrics started to take shape in my soul. It’s amazing how something can grow in you without even realizing it’s happening. My faith was brought to life by the repeated singing of those songs. It wasn’t until much later, when I was beginning to formally articulate my theology that I recognized what a subtle impact these hymns had on me.
In the Sanctuary each week, we sing hymns, of course, that are very likely taking shape in your soul and giving a language to your faith. But each week, we also affirm our faith together. We say words summarizing what is real and true for the people called Christians:
We are not alone, we live in God’s world.
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the church:
to celebrate God’s presence,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God. Amen. (UMH #883)
Depending on how long you have been worshipping with this community, those words may be more or less familiar. But I can guarantee that every time you say them, they will seep deeper into your soul.
This week, we are going to dive into one phrase from that affirmation: We believe in God . . . who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new . . .
We will spend time with this phrase that while familiar, deserves our attention to give it greater meaning.
This week, when we gather for worship together, pay attention to the lyrics of the hymns. Pay attention to the words of the affirmation and the liturgies. Nurture these words and ideas so they can make their home in your heart.
See you on Sunday!
Rev. Casey Orr
Associate Pastor of Discipleship