Sunday, October 14, 2007

I Missed My Church Today

We meant to get up for church this morning. Wanted to make the 11 AM service at St. Thomas, an Episcopal church at 53rd and 5th Ave. We have visited there twice now, and find ourselves craving more of the liturgy and choral Mass. But we were out late last night at a friend's party where we played "Catch Phrase" and "Taboo" until way too late. So we missed the morning service and tried to make the Evensong 4 PM service. But the subways ran so behind that it took us an hour to get there, making us entirely too late. We ended up not going, and instead made the night service at Redeemer Presbyterian where they did a very weirded-out-meter jazz arrangement of "In Christ Alone" that required way too much thought toward how to sing the melody, the very reason why I think worship and jazz don't quite work together. But hey, that's just me.

As I struggled to sing a complex rhythm to a hymn whose beauty should be found in its simplicity, I missed my church in Houston and I missed my friends there. I missed singing the simple rhythm of a beautiful hymn and being moved together toward holiness in a way that is familiar to me. And that's when I finally understood why tradition is important, and why some church members and leaders fear change and resist it. Why some people like to sing from the book and not off the wall. And that I've judged certain people who enjoy what's comfortable. Maybe not out loud, but in my thoughts, but maybe out loud, too.

I missed what was comfortable and wanted so badly to just sing the hymn the right way. Just sing it the way it was written. Because that's the way I knew it. But I noticed people around me worshipping and singing and meaning it. And I realized that this was how they knew it.

For some reason, it felt good to miss my church. It must have been the sense of belonging. Or maybe it's because I had something that was good, and it feels good to have had it. Feels good to get that what I had was good. I'm not sure we always get it. But anyway,

I missed my church today.


MamasBoy said...

Interesting post. There is a flip side to almost everything, isn't there. There is a beauty in singing a new song and having a phrase or turn of words grab us in a fresh way and inspire us to give glory to God, and there is a beauty in knowing a song so well that we don't need to think about the production of it at all and can simply focus like the angels in heaven on the meaning. As a musically illiterate person (can't read notes or hold a tune to save my life), I perhaps lean more than most toward the things I know because learning new songs can be hard and distracting for me. That's not to say I don't like learning new songs, I just need to be able to hear it and sing it more than most to own it for myself, so to speak.

It is interesting to see this process in the life of my son. Because he can't read, yet, he has trouble even getting the words to prayers and songs correct, let alone understand what they mean. It takes him a long time to really master the mere pronunciation of a song or prayer. Yet, because he hears many songs and prayers regularly, he is starting now to get the real words down and to ask questions about the meaning behind certain things. Often this comes as I go out of my way to explain a portion of a song or a prayer to him, but sometimes this happens on its own. Those are the Q&A sessions that I love the most: the ones he initiates.

I hope you are able to make it to your preferred service next week.


Susanne said...

We missed you too!!!