Throughout the entire first year of his life, my young son drifted off to sleep each night with music in his ears — albeit not always right on key. Half the time, he heard his mother softly sing the sweet praise choruses that are near and dear to her heart. Half the time, he relaxed to my rough renditions of the traditional and deeply meaningful hymns with which I grew up. He seemed to like both.
When I was small, our house was frequently filled with my mother's vocals as she intoned her favorite movie and show tunes or one of the singspiration choruses we sang at many church events. To my recollection, my overly shy dad never sang a note in his life, although I once saw him mouthing a few of the words to a hymn at church.
During my high school and college years, I loved to listen to soft rock ballads and folk music on the radio. My younger brothers favored hits with a little harder beat. And the guy across the street blasted the neighborhood with sounds I could only call loud, cutting edge and painful. Still, we all survived living together somehow.
A visit to my wife's parents has always included hours of Spanish love songs characterized by acoustic guitars, brilliant brass horns and Mexican harmonizing. In contrast to that heritage, however, she and her friends spent their youth grooving to lots of American dance music. Her sister, I'm told, still likes disco. Enough said.
Through my years in the pastorate, I always enjoyed dining with those friends who were in music ministry because they always provided a tapestry of classical music as a background to meals. Other friends liked jazz, although that genre, I found, usually gave me indigestion.
One coworker with an office next to mine many years back once spent months listening to nothing but Gregorian chants (which, by the way, really do echo richly down the halls — whether marble or plasterboard — as very few forms of music can). Lots of folks in my current office environment listen to nothing but contemporary Christian artists.
At the other extreme, when I lived in an apartment building several years ago, the folks on the other side of my living room wall had a music collection that I don't believe could ever be categorized or labeled, only studied scientifically.
My teenage nephews were the ones who introduced me to Christian rock, and it is they who are awaiting the opportunity to expand my horizons even more into rap rhythms. My nieces are still trying to convince me there is something good about country-western twang. And I confess I really have no interest in trying to understand the neighbor's son whose moving car sends off sonic waves that I fear will soon bring a government investigation to our block.
There are as many kinds of music as there are people. Each has its place, whether it appeals to many or just a few. Most have even been used at some point to uniquely express love for Jesus and to remind us of the hope, peace and comfort He still offers. This diversity of musical styles makes it possible to reach the wide variety of people that make up God's creation with His unifying message of love. But, sadly, it also makes it impossible to please everyone with one style. That doesn't mean, however, that we should allow musical preference to become the cause for civil war within our families or His kingdom.
I wonder which type of music is most popular among the angels? Do they have the same discussions and debates we do? Personally, I like lots of different kinds of music. I bet you do, too. Enjoy them all, and occasionally try out one you don't fully understand or appreciate . . . unless it's rap, of course.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.