By Kathy Yamashita, ANW Conference President
As I write this letter, I am listening to my Mom read the words of the Hymn “Just as I am” to my Dad who is memorizing the words, so he can sing it. He is blind, so he needs Mom to read to him. Dad is 95 years old and Mom is two years younger. When Dad was young, he was often asked to sing in church and at funerals. When he lost his hearing, he stopped singing in public, but he has never lost his love for music. Hymns are prayers that are set to music. I believe that when he sings the old hymns to himself, that he gains great comfort from the familiar tunes and their prayerful meaning.
This brings me to my gratitude for all the church musicians who practice their craft every Sunday in church and whenever requested for weddings and funerals. Music activates special places in our brains that can remind us of the past; that can ground us in the present; and brings us to look forward to the future. Music can do this more quickly than logic, study and discussion combined. I think it is a kind of gift given to us by God that nudges the brain in many ways. Kind of like chocolate but without the calories.
I do not mean to diminish the value of words alone, or of kind acts, or listening quietly to someone who needs to be heard, or of reading scripture and the whole rest of Christian practice. I am ever grateful for all of what Church is and does. I just want to hold up music because I heard Dad sing tonight and I haven’t heard that for a long time.
As we enter the Church Season of Lent, let us all consider what practices and habits will bring us closer in faith to our God. I don’t think it is a matter of just giving up decadence but more so the adoption of a behavior that helps us to listen more closely to what God is saying to us. My Dad is singing hymns again. It makes my heart leap.
What will you do?
Blessings to all,
Dr. Kathy Yamashita, President of Alberta and Northwest Conference