My 84 year-old Aunt Betty went to be with the Lord two weeks ago. She was getting ready to go to church and died of a sudden heart attack. This, in my estimation, is a pretty good way to go. Betty is now reunited in heaven with her husband, Homer, her parents, and several siblings, including my late father.
Like all the old-timer’s on my Dad’s side of the family, Betty was buried in Abilene, TX – the family’s old stomping ground. At Betty’s request, my wife, Cindy, sang for the funeral service. So we made the nearly 900-mile trek back to west Texas to honor Betty’s wishes. (I have returned to Abilene exactly five times in the past 30 years, and each time was to attend a family funeral.) Providing music for a funeral or a wedding (as do so many folks in the music ministry) is a wonderful opportunity to create a moment for the people at the service. Years later, lots of people won’t remember the details of the sermon or the setting of the service – but they will remember the song.
Years ago, I read a letter from a prison inmate written to a youth choir that had recently sung at his prison. The prisoner wrote to say that time inside the walls of a prison isn’t measured in days and years because the days and yars all are the same. Rather, time is measured in memorable moments. He wrote to tell the kids in the youth choir their concert had provided a moment for him and he was grateful. For an hour or so, he had been transported away from his prison by the music and witness of a couple dozen teenagers who came to the prison to sing about God’s love.
Such is the power of music. Whether inside a prison or in a glorious Sunday morning worship service, music speaks in ways we often do not understand – creating moments for those who hear it. Moments of power. Moments of truth. Moments of joy. Moments of catharsis. We who are privileged with the gift of music (whether as soloists, choir members, instrumentalists, or worship leaders) should always be aware of its power to help those who hear it. We should strive to honor the gift of music by creating memorable moments in music.
Two weeks ago, Cindy and I hopefully helped my family and my Aunt Betty’s friends to experience such a moment as we celebrated her life and passing.