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Tuesday Tidings August 21, 2023

Dearest Members of Bethlehem,

“Come thou almighty King, help us thy name to sing…” -ELW 408

As you read the words above, could you help yourself from singing? Did a tune immediately pop into your head? Hymnody can have quite an effect on us. The music can transport you to another time and place filled to overflowing with joy. Just the right hymn can renew your spirit and allow you to know genuine enthusiasm for the Gospel again. And, a classic “chestnut” - as we sometimes call them - can restore your hope amid the most trying times.

And that got me to thinking… we have had countless Bible studies, we’ve done quite a few book studies here at Bethlehem, and yes… we’ve done some film study! But I am not sure that we have ever really taken the time to consider the significance of the lyrics that we give voice to each week in worship.

So, yes, at this week’s “Summer Session” we are going to spend some time considering the power and significance of hymnody. These songs have consciously and subconsciously shaped our conception of God throughout our lives. These hymn writers… are they decent theologians? Do the hymns that we truly treasure offer a faithful articulation of the God in whom we trust so deeply?

I mean just think about a line like, “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord; she is his new creation by water and the word.” -ELW 654. In just one sentence we are reminded what it is that we are building upon each day, the form that shapes the whole structure is Christ. Next, as folks firmly rooted in the legacy of the Reformation, we hear/sing that the church is once and always a, “new creation.” This is so true, as much as it might frustrate us, the church is never static, it’s always dynamic… being reshaped to most effectively shape us and the world around us. And finally to know, the driving force behind that dynamism is the “water and the word.” Yes! Baptism, the remembrance of baptism, and our commitment to living with the living Word is the hallmark of our life together. Friends, look at what we can harvest from just one verse!

We’re in for a fantastic conversation, bring your hymnal, your questions, and an inquisitive spirit ready to be renewed by some timeless wisdom.

Even if you can’t make it on Wednesday evening, as you’ll see in the “question for reflection” that appears below, you can share the hymns that have been most impactful in your life. Perhaps, thanks to your inspiration, those might be some of the hymns we consider together on Wednesday night. Thanks in advance for your thoughtful and faithful consideration.

Question for reflection: What are some of the hymn lyrics that stick with you and continue to shape your spirit? Do you think you could take a classic hymn tune and write some new lyrics to go along with it, would you be willing to share your work?

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Dan

God of mercy, without your guidance we would be so lost. Despite our stubbornness, your Spirit is persistent and finds ways to nudge us in the life-giving direction we need to go. Thank you for your care gracious Lord, your blessings continue to abound, and we are the beneficiaries of your generosity. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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