Today’s Word from Pastor Tom…

As I write this, I am listening to our Karl play and sing “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.” Assuming you were blessed by his devotion last Wednesday, the tune “Kingsfold” might still be ringing in your head. This is a favorite hymn of mine sung to a tune that for me sounds hauntingly Irish. Beautifully Irish. I love Ireland. I love the scenery, the history, the traditions, the people. I love Kingsfold and I love to hear Karl sing to its simple but beautiful melody. “Be Thou My Vision” is also a favorite with a distinct Irish ambiance. It will be sung at my memorial service… not right away, hopefully.

I confess to being a bit jealous of Karl’s gifts. Okay, maybe a lot jealous. Music touches my soul, my heart, and my head in a way that often leaves me weepy while at the same time grateful. Isn’t that curious? While I confess I sometimes can get weepy over TV commercials (isn’t that pathetic!), I have never quite figured out how certain images coupled with certain sounds are capable of creating such emotions within me. Anyway, I am forever grateful for the gifts Karl, Sheila, and all of our musicians grace us with.

The best word I can offer up to describe the effect music can have over me is “joy.” Now keep in mind I am not a musician. I would chant in my former parish and would periodically sing in our choir but I do not count myself a musician. I listen and have learned to follow notes up and down (assuming we actually look at music notes anymore). I myself can get really excited though when music is combined with a visual. Try the YouTube of Tommy Shaw (Styx?) singing, “Fooling Yourself” with the Cleveland Youth Symphony (the young musicians absolutely make this for me!). Or, Peter Gabriel singing, “In Your Eyes” (Secret World Live… it just makes me happy).

These are moments that fill me with joy. Obviously, my emotional response to music is not limited to the sacred. Then again, maybe my response is in itself sacred? Regardless of the musical genre? Hmmmm… well, that question is for another blog. Anyway, back to joy.

I also am not particularly happy right now. Let me see… the new roof went 50% over the estimate, the plumber says it’s going to cost a couple of thousand to fix the sewer main, you never stop parenting regardless of children’s age, yada yada yada. I know, you’ve heard it all before, take a ticket.

But that’s my point. We can simultaneously experience joy while not being particularly happy in life. Joy is a spiritual gift. It comes from outside of us; it is a spirit thing. It is a sign that the Kingdom of God is close while “happiness,” or lack thereof, is a creation of our own making. We can will ourselves to be happy but we cannot will ourselves to have joy. This past summer we had to put down our two dogs. They were both rescue dogs. First Cleo (7) and then Gucci (15). It was crushing; we loved them. We have always rescued dogs, an older one mentoring a younger. To say we were unhappy, sad, would be the grossest of understatements.

Yet, through our tears, in moments of reflection, we both have found joy in their memory. Isn’t that how it works? Joy and sadness at the same time. Joy is a gift reminding us that the Kingdom has come close. Now, I just need to find a YouTube piece of music to go with their memory… naw, on second thought I think I’ll pass on this one. Don’t need another reason to weep. Pray for joy. Joy is God’s antidote for the world’s sadness.

For you I pray joy,
Pastor Tom