As we stood and sang in church today and I heard the little voice coming up beside me I knew what I was going to write about today. Madeline has been sitting in big church and following along in the hymnal for awhile now. But today the lyrics and the tune were simple enough that she could read the words and sing along without much assistance from me.
I thought about this a few weeks ago when she was baptized. The family was in church waiting to see her come out of the water. We stood to sing and I heard my Grandma’s voice. I remember listening to her sing alongside me in church for many of my growing up years. My Mom as well. In those songs these faithful women passed down to me their belief in and love for God. Week after week at their elbows I learned the songs that make up my own personal hymnal. The ones I know by heart and am always glad to hear over and over. If it were up to me I would sing the same 30 or 40 songs again and again.
Religion and belief is as much about seeing as it is doing and hearing. In these songs Madeline, and all of us, pick up easy to remember phrases which strengthen our faith. My Grandma gave this gift to my Mom, my Mom gave it to me, and I am passing it to Madeline. She hears me singing, sees me going to Sunday School. My sincere hope is that she learns and loves these songs as I did and then draws on them later when her faith may be low or her path difficult. Many Sundays I have stood alone in the pew and welled up with tears while singing my favorite old standards. But they buoyed me and I got through and went on.
Faith is much easier as a child. Noah and the ark, baby Jesus, manna from heaven. Warm fuzzy stuff. When you get bigger and life’s challenges come to your door you have to dig much deeper. Death, divorce, financial despair, illness, and other grown-up problems can scare the Jesus right out of you. Hopefully the foundation that I am laying with the help of many other faithful people will help sustain Madeline through the difficulties to come. Especially when I am gone.
So today a shout out of gratitude to my Mom and Grandma for he spiritual gift they have offered me. But it doesn’t end with them. My grandparents, my family, my friends and their parents, teachers at school and at church, anyone who ever invited me to Vacation Bible School or bowed their heads at the dinner table to thank God for the meal and included me. All of these folks get the tip of my hat and a special place in my heart and prayers today.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1