Celebration and Music
by William A. Decker, editor (May / June 2005 • Volume 21 • Number 3)
Can you have a time of enjoyment and celebration without music? When people gather for a party, music fills the background. Weddings often end with dinner, dancing, and music. Movies wouldn’t be movies without soundtracks lacing one scene to the next. Marching and pep bands arouse enthusiasm among spectators at high school and college sporting events.
Nearly like an article of clothing, headphones sprout from the heads of many a teen (and some older folks, too). It seems that their enjoyment of life in general is fixed to CD players and connecting headphones.
Hence, it’s no surprise that music also accompanies the celebration of a community’s faith in God. Remember David, whose forces had wrenched the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistine people? The Chronicler depicted the people of Israel slowly but surely winding their way to Jerusalem. The king led the way, dancing and leaping. Animals were sacrificed. Accompanying all this were people shouting and singing, and instrumentalists playing horns, trumpets, cymbals, harps, and lyres (1 Chronicles 15).
The Ark had been taken from its people earlier in battle — and lost. But now it had been found and would be returned to its rightful place. This was a time of great joy.
Luke 15:11-32 records another “lost and found” story, Jesus’ telling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. When the lost son had found his way home again, his father requested that the household stop its routine duties and orchestrate a grand blowout. What else could one do? This young son, for all intensive purposes, had earlier taken a journey into the land of the dead. But he who was once dead “is alive again.” He who was once lost is “found” (vv. 24, 32).
“We had to celebrate,” the father told his older son (v. 32). When life is restored, the only natural response is to celebrate. And, of course, during this celebration, there was “music and dancing” (v. 25b).
Our Sunday worship services are a celebration as well, a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s only natural that the people of God in Christ will want to sing old, familiar hymns, compose new songs, play musical instruments, chant, rehearse and gather in quartets or large choirs, and lift their voices, some in tune, some out of tune.
Why? Because we all were once dead, but are now alive, once lost but now found. Jesus is risen, risen indeed!
Our main features in this issue all focus on worship and music.
Musician Michael Krentz looks at how congregations can encourage our young people to sing and participate in worship.
Ivis LaRiviere-Mestre, a Latina pastor, focuses on worship which holds true to our traditions and theology and at the same time, takes into consideration popular pieties and practices that the congregation brings with them. She also shares an English-Spanish liturgy which reflects her congregation’s context and provides hope in God’s deliverance.
Youth director Ryan Houts writes on how an Iowa-based ministry is helping high school youth gain leadership skills through an ecumenical worship and music ministry called Twilight Resurrection. The youth are learning about worship leadership, sharing their faith in Christ with their peers, developing their God-given gifts, and integrating youth culture’s music into their ministry.
The 2005 Churchwide Assembly will vote on a comprehensive proposal for new primary worship materials, called Renewing Worship, in August. Cheryl Dieter, of the ELCA worship staff, gives a timeline of the ongoing process.
New Editors, Columnist
I’d like to introduce our two new review editors, both of whom are writing their respective columns for the first time in this issue.
Our video review editor is Geoffrey L. Scott. He currently is associate pastor at Christ Lutheran Church, Menomonie, Wisconsin. But he has also had a career as a writer, and has published books and articles for both children and adults, including work on communication and computer technology.
Turning to his first column in this issue, you will note that Geoff is appealing to the readership to share some ideas about videos which have proven valuable to your congregation and other ministries. Drop him a line at email@example.com with the subject line marked “my video picks” if you can help him.
I am also pleased to announce that Larry Wohlrabe has taken over the reins of editing the book review section.
Larry is currently the senior pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Moorhead, Minnesota. Prior to this, he has held two other pastorates, served as an assistant to the bishop in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod, and was director of admissions at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.
We also welcome Karen Matthias-Long, an associate in ministry, who is our newest columnist for “Facets,” the column written by rostered lay ministers. Karen serves Jordan Lutheran Church, Orefield, Pennsylvania, as the director of congregational ministries and is also an author of Sunday school and confirmation curriculum.
William A. Decker is editor of Lutheran Partners magazine, Chicago, Illinois.