The Sound of Music
Our musical calendar is shaping up for 2018. Headliners include Buncombe Street UMC, Shandon UMC and Ed Hinshaw of First Baptist. All are honoring us with return engagements. The Buncombe choir will be appearing for the third season and Shandon will be back for a second time. Ed will lead us off in April, Shandon will come in July and Buncombe in October. This is big doings for a small church like New Hope. Everyone knows by now the story of the chance encounter with Buncombe and New Hope that conveniently occured at a time they were beginning a ministry to assist small churches. Buncombe, through Rosemary Hughes, then introduced us to Eddie Huss, Music Director at Shandon, who led the service for us in July, 2017. Meanwhile, associate member, Glenn Houser, a member of First Baptist got us together with Ed Hinshaw, music director at First Baptist. We have been richly blessed through these services, which have been moving and inspiriational.
These associations have led to other developments. On Monday, January 29th, several New Hopers met with Eddie Huss of Shandon and Rosemary Hughes and Jim Doolittle of Buncombe. Eddie hosted the meeting for us at Shandon UMC in Columbia. We covered several topics but music was certainly the main focus, as this is what brought us together initially. It is a given that the music programs we have enjoyed are spiritually uplifting and also serve to bring friends and former members back for fellowship and worship. Music is certainly an important part of the worship service in the Methodist denomination. Larger churches with an abundance of talent enjoy this experience every Sunday. This is not necessarily the case however for smaller churches like New Hope. We are blessed to have the Fifth Sunday events and will hopefully continue these in the future.
In our meeting, we explored other ideas that would enhance our worship experience through music. First, we can reach out to the community for opportunities to bring in groups. One such possibility is Claflin University, which has a long standing affilation with the Methodist Church and offers a Music Education major. Another idea is to begin a homegrown special music program. This might lead to a choir, but could start with a few people coming together to perform for us, perhaps once a month. It could consist of duets, quartets or the like. It would feature a special number and would likely involve a rehearsal. We will be exploring this idea in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, if you are interested in being a part of this or know someone who migbt be, please let us know.
Many churches are challenged with membership retention and attendance these days, and frankly they are not faring that well. Smaller churches with limited resources are particularly vulnerable. Numerous opinions and solutions have been suggested. Music is an important aspect of attracting and retaining members. Many larger churches offer contemporary music services complete with praise bands in hopes of reaching a younger audience. Entertainment is surely not the purpose of the music ministry. Rather it is to enhance the worship experience, to praise and glorify God and to bring us into a deeper relationship with Him. When Christians lift their voices in song, it is an uplifting and fulfilling experience. God did not favor all of us with musical gifts, but those He did are encouraged to share them with others. "Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a single degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing." - John Wesley, Directions for Singing, 1761
From Pastor Sandra
It is already February and I still have things to store away from Christmas. The time seems to pass so quickly.
In this month, we think of ground hogs and shadows, valentines, candy, and expressions of love, while we anticipate the coming of Spring with all things new and fresh. In addition to praise opportunities through our music ministry I’d like to discuss contentment in life and in worship.
A dictionary definition of happiness is "a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience based on good fortune." The definition of the word "rejoice," from which our word "joy" comes, is "to feel great delight, a vivid emotion of pleasure, to welcome or to be glad." Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words "happy" and "happiness" about 30 times, while "joy" and "rejoice" appear over 300 times.
In Genesis 30: 1-13, we read the story of sisters Rachel and Leah, rivals to be the wife of Jacob. We are told that the sisters even used their handmaidens to produce more sons for Jacob. Do read verse 13 to see Leah’s "happiness." The word "happy" comes from the Hebrew root word, ashar, and means "to set right or be blessed."
The word "joy" comes from the Greek root word chara and means "to be exceedingly glad." James 1: 2 reads, "Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials." In the next two verses, it is explained with these words, "Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." The deep, abiding joy comes as we persevere through trials, with God’s help and our faith matures and is strengthened.
Happiness is fleeting and depends upon temporal factors like circumstances or other people. Joy, however, is true contentment that comes from internal factors such as faith. True joy is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances. The Bible teaches that happiness is fleeting because it often depends on things outside of ourselves, but true joy is internal because it is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ.
What does the Bible say regarding joy?
1. Psalm 4:7 – You have filled my heart with greater joy…God is the source and provider of joy in our lives.
2. Psalm 92:4 – For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the work of your hands…God’s mighty works can bring us joy.
3. Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…Joy is one of the evidences of our spiritual conversion in Jesus Christ.
4. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – Be joyful always…We are commanded to always be joyful.
As we contemplate the celebration of the Lenten Season, followed by the JOY of Easter morning, let us also be happy with New Beginnings.