We Believe

We Believe

We Believe

by Jim Rittenhouse, Associate Director of Music Ministries

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…” These immortal words of Thomas Jefferson indelibly carved into the soul of our nation have been the cornerstone of so much of our public and private belief systems. This is a given – this is something we can all agree to hold dear, the baseline of who we are as a nation, and a bedrock of what we believe as children of the Creator. And yet, whether we are aware of it or not, we somehow, as a nation, and perhaps even in our day-to-day personal lives, have betrayed this that we have said is “self-evident”. We have not lived as we believe – not “held” this truth.

There is a challenge we each have as followers of Christ, citizens of the commonwealth of God … to live out what we believe. It is difficult – harrowing sometimes, against our nature most times. St. Paul himself confessed, “I do not understand what I do; for what I want to do I do not do; and I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15) But beyond what we know is our natural inclination for sin, what we actually profess with our mouths that we believe we often forsake with our actions, or our words, or our thoughts.

“I do not understand what I do; for what I want to do I do not do;  and I do what I hate.” -ROMANS 7:15

In Youth Choir, we have been recently talking about how we can show in our singing that we believe the very truths that we are presenting – how can it be evident on our faces and in our spirits those truths we hold dear – the goodness of God, the humbling sacrifice of Jesus for our sake, the thrilling work of the Spirit in us? I am reminded of the challenge found in The Chorister’s Prayer from the Royal School of Church Music in England: …Grant that what we sing with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and what we believe in our hearts we may show forth in our lives…”

Fusion 2017

In preparing for our FUSION Philly Tour with the youth group and youth choir, Griffin Phillips (Minister of Youth & Young Adults) and I have been looking for a way to connect our missions to the areas where we are visiting. Along our tour, we will be visiting the memorial for the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge National Park, the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center … all places where the struggle for freedom or the evidence of humankind’s inhumanity toward others in God’s commonwealth is palpable. “We Believe…” becomes more than the slogan for our tour, but a challenge to examine just what being a follower of Christ looks like, sounds like, and how our words and actions hold the power to set free the captive, but also hold captive another’s very life.

Please pray for all of us who are participating in this year’s tour, June 10-16. Thank you for giving our youth and chaperones the opportunity to spread good news through hands-on-mission, and the gift of music.

And a word to those who wonder why we as a church treasure singing, and choirs, and music, here is a helpful guide from one my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, in Hallelujah Anyway – Rediscovering Mercy:

“Singing is breath that is larger than yourself, so it joins you with space, with community, with other realms and our deepest inside places. You are joining your strand to everyone else’s, weaving something with the whole, and this extends the community outward into a force bigger than itself. Think Soweto, Selma …” — and think the Highlands, Louisville, Blacksburg Virginia, Philadelphia, Kingston New Jersey, New York City, Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

Read more about FUSION 2017.