The What and Who of Meandering About

Monday, March 4, 2013

New Narrative - Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I was given a gift yesterday.

As a part of worship at Second Presbyterian Church im Indianapolis, Indiana we sang two of the great hymns of the church.  The congregation stood and sang in full voice "Be Thou My Vision" and "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."  I love both of these hymns.  The music is wonderful and the lyrics have a theological depth that is not matched by many other hymns.

As meaningful as singing these great hymns can be, that in and of itself was not the gift.  As my voice joined in the singing of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", I began to look out into the congregation.  I noticed that many of the people, old and young alike, were singing this hymn from memory.  They did not need the assistance of a hymnal to proclaim these wonderful words of praise.  It had long ago become a part of their faith consciousness.  What a glorious sight it was to behold.

And then...
And then...my eyes landed upon a scene that I will not soon forget.  A mother was holding her young daughter tightly to her chest.  The child's head was resting securely on her mommy's shoulder.  Mom was lovingly leaning her face next to her daughter's.  And she was singing.  She was singing the words of this hymn written nearly one hundred years ago softly and tenderly into her daughter's ear as if she were telling her one of the most important secrets the world has ever known.  The look on this mother's face was one of calm certainty about the story she was singing.  And I got lost in the moment as my heart and my voice continued to sing,
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

At the risk of sounding overly dramatic I am convinced that there was more going on in that moment than a mother singing a song to her daughter. It was something miraculous.  In that moment I witnessed faith being transferred from one generation to another.  

This mother gets it.  She knows something that many have forgotten.  This mother understands that faith development happens exactly in moments like these.  Without reading a single book about making faith stick for your children or best church practices, this mother knows that if her daughter is to have the opportunity to have a well developed and mature faith as an adult she must see it lived out in her family and her community of faith.  

We have lost this truth along the way.  In a world of specialties and specialists, we have gotten used to paying the professionals to be the primary nurturers of faith.  We desire shortcuts and quick solutions.  However, there is no magic potion, no simple six-step process, or four catchy chords and pithy lyrics that lead to faith development. The formula is the same as it always has been.  Faith is developed in a faithful community where the songs of faith are whispered in our children's ears, the prayers of the saints said, scriptures read, sacraments celebrated, and good news proclaimed. This is where we hear the memories and experiences of a faithful God of mercy and grace and where faith becomes our own. 

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