As much time as I spent at church over the years, between Sunday school, regular services, special services, not to mention the amount of people in my family who are pastors or pastors’ wives, I figured that I would either really hate church or really love it.
As it turns out, I became one of those church geeks you may have heard about (you may even be one, REPRESENT!). You know, those people who are always there to help polish the brass for Easter, who compare the hymns to the readings and sermon, who jump at the chance to be assisting minister/communion assistant/soloist/acolyte/banner bearer… you get the picture. In those years of all that service, as many Christians do, I grew into a more adult, grounded faith. Part of that growth involves music. I was in every choir that you can imagine when I was a kid, and I still am part of the church choir at my grad school city. I even sang songs at home, though I have to admit “Jesus Slugs Me” is not one of my favorite songs anymore (oh, to be three years old again…).
I became so enamored with the music of the church that it’s now one of my life’s passions. While not all hymns I like/love are oh-so-deep, some have really helped me articulate my faith in a way I couldn’t before. I wanted to start off this series by putting my absolute favorite hymn: Built on a Rock. I had to do a little report on it for a class in undergrad and I learned that this hymn was composed after an earthquake leveled a church in Denmark (I think; I don’t have the ELW hymnal companion with me). As someone who was and is very anxious, the constant of God’s protection and love was very comforting to me. Just read a couple of the stanzas below (pulled the text from Hymnary.org)
Built on the Rock the Church shall stand
Even when steeples are falling.
Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land;
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the soul distressed,
Longing for rest everlasting.
Surely in temples made with hands
God, the Most High, is not dwelling;
High above earth His temple stands,
All earthly temples excelling.
Yet He who dwells in heav’n above
Chooses to live with us in love,
Making our bodies His temple.
When I heard this, I realized that not only are all Christians in the muck and mire of this world together, but God’s there with us, too. He lives with us and protects us and loves us. Even when our churches, our houses, our ways of life are threatened, Christ chooses to make temples of our physical frame. The important thing in all of this to remember that we Christians are the body of the church, and that God stays with us through all times and in all places. Here’s a version of the song I found on YouTube. I may do my own version on guitar later. 🙂