Starting at 4 PM on any given Monday, I sit at my desk and hear children singing: rehearsal for the Junior Choir, conducted by Tyler Turner, begins with warm-ups, singing games, and then rehearsal of pieces the group is working on. Tyler’s really great at helping the children clap and stomp and count rhythms that teach these songs, and today they are rehearsing one of my favorite UU songs, “Standing on the Side of Love,” which they will perform soon for a worship service.
I often think that my life is accompanied by a sound track. Maybe you have the same experience: music is so much a part of life that you hear it when you’re writing, driving, cooking, folding the laundry…even if you don’t have Spotify running or a CD playing. Music lifts us up, makes our faith live, helps us understand the challenges of life in different ways sometimes.
This weekend, Follen Church hosted the board of the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network (UUMN). I’m honored to serve as Moderator of the Board; Tyler was the Director of the UUMN’s triennial Children’s Choir program. The Board spent hours discussing the ways in which we serve our Unitarian Universalist faith through music and transformative worship, and looked forward to ways we can engage more who serve as professional worship leaders in the mission and work of UUMN. On Sunday, at Experi-Worship, I was delighted to work with some of our RE volunteers in offering Soul Collage activities to folks, and singing with the congregation and with UUMN members in celebratory worship. And of course, I know there is more ahead: Operetta is coming, and I am waiting to see the ways in which the energy of the congregation will be raised and transformed by that music-making experience.
Through music, through worship, we lift our minds and transform our souls. Through our time spent together, we learn, we grow our faith. Lloyd Richards, the first African American director to work on Broadway and a mentor of mine, once said that the goal of theater is to touch “the head, the heart, the mind, and the spirit.” So it is with faith development – the challenge, and the opportunity, is to touch all elements of each of us, so that we can become more spiritually mature and to enrich our lives.
A colleague said of her church, “All we do, all over the church, is faith development.” That seems like a good description of what we aspire to at Follen as well: faith development, through music, worship, conversation, exploration of the big and tough things, support of one another. That’s the promise that we offer, the one that we hope to live out, day by day. May it be ours, together.