FPCE director of communications.
There is probably nothing in this life that keeps me more grounded in my relationship with Jesus than music. I simply cannot imagine spending the last 40+ years of walking in faith (sometimes more successfully than others) without having had songs and hymns to turn to in all the seasons of life. Whether I was living in joyful connection with my savior, wrestling with my sinful nature, or grieving because of loss, confusion, or the daily challenges of life, what kept me putting one foot in front of the other and moving on down the road of life was finding a song in my heart and singing along.
You may be thinking “But what about scripture? Surely the Word of God is the foundation of faithful living?” I would agree, but for me attachment to scripture – particularly anything I try to memorize – most often comes through those pieces of music whose lyrics or concepts are taken from the pages of the Bible. The night my friend Larry led me to give my life to Jesus, he brought a Bible and a stack of record albums with him. He took me through the Scriptures step by step, helping me to recognize my need for a savior, and helping me understand why Jesus was the only option for meeting that need. But he also introduced me to all kinds of different Christian music that night, and it was those songs that captured my heart in a way words and apologetics alone never could.
Once I had made my commitment, I looked for any music I could find that would undergird my newfound belief, and strengthen my resolve to live out a life dedicated to Jesus as best I could. It was the early 1980s and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) was just reaching its heyday. There was so much variety to choose from:
- John Michael Talbot, a Franciscan monk, had released an album in 1979 called “The Lord’s Supper” and its songs were a musical communion service. For someone who grew up without attending much church, it was like an injection of musical liturgy.
- Amy Grant was just becoming a superstar in Christian musical circles, and songs like “Thy Word (is a Lamp Unto My Feet)”, “El Shaddai”, and “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” were constantly playing on my cassette player, and in my mind.
- Michael W. Smith’s “Great is the Lord” was a hit when it came out in 1983, and his 1984 track “Hosanna” was also popular. Both are still sung in churches today.
- Other favorites of mine included “Your Kindness” from Leslie Phillips (1985), Dan Gardner’s Hosanna Music track “As The Deer” (1987), and Rich Mullins’ 1988 song “Awesome God.”
Of course, my tastes have changed over the years (multiple times) and today I am in a season where great singer/songwriters like Sara Groves, Sandra McCracken, and Andrew Petersen are regularly playing in my car, my earbuds, and sometimes even on the speakers at my desk. There is every likelihood that none of these artists or anything I love is what you enjoy. That’s wonderful! How dull it would be if we all liked all the same songs and artists and could never have any new “aha” moments as we hear what God is using to touch someone else’s heart.
This Sunday, Pastor Tassie is concluding our current teaching series with a lesson entitled “The Bible is a Relationship.” On Valentine’s Day, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday as we enter into the liturgical season of Lent. This year, our Lenten teaching series will be entitled “Wandering Heart: Figuring Out Faith with Peter.” This wonderful series uses the key moments in the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” as a pathway to investigate how the Apostle Peter lived out his both steadfast and unsteady life as a disciple. Our Ash Wednesday lesson is entitled “Tune my Heart,” and our February 18 lesson is called “Jesus Sought Me.”
This past Sunday we were excited to begin sharing our 2024 Lenten devotional guides. Take a look at this beautiful booklet and take your own copy home next time you’re in the building. We are not able to provide them as PDFs, but if you are interested in an e-reader version, email me at email@example.com and I will send you the link.
I am excited about this upcoming season of Lent. As a community, First Pres is both experiencing great change and yet also being reminded of God’s unchanging, unmerited love for us. What peace that brings! Don’t be surprised if you hear me humming “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” the next time you see me!
God’s presence and perfect peace to all of you,
FPCE director of Communications