"Yeah, I'm the bad youth minister and I'm blasting Lady Gaga all the way up as I pull into the church parking lot," I joke to my new friends.
"Not Christian music?" one of the guys asks, surprised.
I shrug as I ring my hair out. Water splashes onto the ground. "I used to be really into the Christian music scene, and I like some of it, but not a whole lot anymore."
"I don't like much of it either," one of the other guys says. I'm a little relieved as he says this. In some circles I at times feel a little guilty that the popular Christian station in town is my last resort for music.
"But I also grew up in a really old school Lutheran church," I add. "Hymns, chanting, the whole thing."
The second guy laughs. "Oh, so you're like Catholic!"
Growing up in a traditional Lutheran church, I hear this a lot.
Apparently, singing liturgy and using a hymnal is everything being a Catholic or Lutheran is about.
First, Lutherans aren't Catholic - at all.
Second, the old traditional style isn't all that bad.
Now, I love praise songs and a more "contemporary" or "emerging" style of worship when it's done well. God has used, and is continuing to use, newer musicians in some really powerful ways.
But, I do have a special place in my heart for the "old school" stuff.
This morning at church we had a funeral for one of the charter members of the congregation, and he was the grandfather to two of the youth I work with. He was 91 years young and had been married to his wife for 60 years. He had been in WWII, worked as a carpenter, loved to square dance, and always had a witty remark on the tip of his tongue. Pastor talked about how he didn't need a bumper sticker on his car or wear "Christian" t-shirts to show he loved Jesus. He simply lived it.
As we sat in the pews and I held the hymnal in my hands and sang those classic songs, it reminded me of how much I really do appreciate those traditions. It's like the man who's life we were celebrating. They didn't need to be flashy or anything. Simply... be.
Yes, some traditional worship services can be boring. It's so easy to simply get into the habit of repeating the same words and chants over and over and over again.
But the lyrics to those old songs... they're poetic.
My song is love unknown, my saviors love to me
Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be
My Lord shall take frail flesh and die?
Abide with me fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me
Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee
Let the water and the blood
From thy wounded side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure
Save from wrath and make me pure
Guys... people just don't write like that anymore. It comes straight from the soul. You can tell the writers thought about what they were saying, and put time and effort into the music.
And the history behind those words and tradition is just as beautiful. It's people who lived, breathed, suffered, and sometimes died so they could sing those songs. So they could say that liturgy. So they could worship God freely.
Songs that have been handed down for centuries sometimes that connect us to the people of faith who have gone before us.
Yeah, someday our newer praise songs might be like that too. Which is awesome. But, can I have my hymnal too?