"A person's life can be compared quite nicely to the four seasons of the year. This blog is from someone in the Winter of Life enjoying the fruits of his "Summer and Fall" and looking forward to assisting the growth and nourishment for the next generation.

My Father and Grandfather passed on their wisdom through their actions and their stories. This is probably be the most impactful way to pass on wisdom. But the written word can have an affect on lives that extends beyond the memories of a couple of generations. This blog is an attempt to reflection on my life experiences and pass these reflections to future generations of my own family as well as any others who might come across these pages.

Tuesday, August 31

"Give me that old time religion"

Please permit me a blog post of a personal nature without the need to provide advice about something or to expound on a religious topic. 

During a discussion with one of my customers and his wife, I mentioned my Blog “I Believe”.  Thinking he might stump me, he asked me to briefly state my beliefs.  I responded with the Apostles Creed which begins, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord....”. As I got into the Creed, he and his wife both joined me as we ended the Creed with, “... the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting”.  The three of us laughed and parted as brothers and sisters in Christ. As they walked away, I thought, “Why had that Creed popped into my head so quickly?” As I pondered this, I began to understand the legacy of my many years in the Methodist Church (now the United Methodist). The constant and often boring repetition of certain portions of the service were silently criticized by us young folks. “I get nothing out of saying those things. I know them by heart and could say them in my sleep.”  What seemed terribly old fashioned then served the real purpose of cementing them and their message in my mind and heart.

I attend a local Baptist Church and always leave the service with a sincere feeling of having worshiped God and having been filled with the Holy Spirit through the music and the inspired message of our pastor. 
The Baptist worship format consists of singing, a congregational prayer time, the collection, Bible reading and the sermon and, of course, an invitation. And this format works well in raising our spirits and making us receptive to the preaching of the Lord’s message.

But there are things I miss from my days in the United Methodist Church.  I miss the routine, I miss the Apostle’s Creed every Sunday, I miss the Doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below, praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”.  I miss closing the pastor’s prayer with the congregation saying the Lord’s Prayer, “...we pray these things in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray saying, Our Father, who art in Heaven...”.  I miss communion on a regular basis and I miss the personal connection of receiving the communion elements from the hands of the pastor or one of those assisting the pastor.  In some churches, the person handing out the elements will whisper a quiet reassurance, “The body of Christ broken for YOU.” I usually get a chill as the word YOU is spoken. I feel, I know, those words were especially spoken for my benefit!

But most of all I miss the hymns.  Don’t get me wrong, the new praise songs are usually meaningful as they have a single theme wrapped in a lyrical phrase which is repeated over and over. It is good music with a message but I missed the old hymns, the one that seemed to be more concerned with the theology of the message and only secondarily the musical suitability or the ease of singing.  Some of my favorites are;

•“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see...”
•“Are you able to remember when a thief lifts up his eyes that his soul is worthy of a place in paradise...”
•“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty...”
•“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear!
•“Trust and Obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
•“Joy to the World! The Lord has come; Let earth receive her King...”

Singing hymns with such strong messages help solidify their message in our minds.  We may not remember the sermon last Sunday but we will remember the hymns especially if they are ones we sing over and over.  I suspect most Christians can recite more verses to hymns than they can Bible verses.  In fact, if you have grown up in the church, you learned the basics of faith and your relationship to God and Jesus from hymns as much as from the Bible or, dare I say, from the sermons. I enjoy the new music, but I do miss the old hymns.  Those old fashioned, sometimes boring, I could sing them in my sleep, why don’t we sing some new stuff, hymns that tumble freely out of our mind when someone asks, “What do you believe?”

Being old isn’t necessarily bad, neither in church routines and hymns nor in humans.  Or so says this old man!


Anonymous said...

You don't need anyone to give you that old time religion, you have it! Those "memory verses" that we hated to learn are the very verses that sustain us.

Anonymous said...