where love is alive 

You may have noticed that much of our lives follow repetitive and routine schedules. This is evident in examples like the standard times we tend to sleep, rise, or eat. We elect to follow set patterns for grooming, dressing, and driving to a destination. And our work often follows a structured schedule. Occasionally, however, we are blessed with a day that is totally unique. I had one of those unique days last Friday when I journeyed to my alma mater, Carson-Newman University, to record a Christmas Album with current and alumni members of the A Cappella Choir.

According to my best research, an A Cappella Choir has been in existence since the 1940’s and in all that time has had only two directors. Professor Charles “Fessor” Jones taught at Carson-Newman from 1946 to 1982. The A Cappella Choir was his signature musical ensemble. After Fessor’s retirement, the choir came under the leadership of Dr. Eric Thorson. During my collegiate years, I had the unique privilege of singing under the direction of both these men.

Thus, last Friday I assembled in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, TN with over 180 other singers. While I personally knew only a few other people there, we all had the common experience of experiencing this special choral group during our collegiate days. As we joined our voices together, it prompted me to realize that this moment was a reflection of heaven. In that sanctuary a diverse group of souls gathered to offer one voice of praise to a common Savior.

After numerous hours rehearsing and recording, we completed the evening by singing the one song we all knew by heart. You see, from times in memorial every A Cappella Choir rehearsal and concert ends with the choir holding hands and singing of “The Benediction” based upon Numbers 6:24-26. To my right was an 18-year-old incoming freshman. Beyond him was a 1975 graduate. To my left was an alto planning to complete her degree in 2015. In front of me were two gentlemen easily in their 70’s. Only a handful of people in the room were vocational musicians. Together we held hands and sang:

The Lord bless you, and keep you.

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you

And give you peace

The Lord make his face to shine upon you.

And be gracious unto you. Amen.

This also is my vision for our church. I pray we will be a place where people diverse in age, abilities, vocations, and backgrounds gather to offer our gifts of worship and service to our common Savior. In doing so we joyfully extend God’s blessings, peace, and grace.

See you Sunday.  It is great to be your pastor.  Jay

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