By Joy Converse
Some of you know my love of music, especially singing. Since I was a young child, music has been an integral part of my life; whether singing in school or church choirs, learning to the play the organ at age 9, the guitar at 13 and piano at 15. Many wondered why when I became a teacher it was not as a music teacher. For me, music was a passion, a means of expressing things I could not say with words; a very personal, emotional part of my life; often a place of solace, a haven form the world where I could meet my Lord. To teach it would make it academic. Instead I preferred to use it in my teaching.
As I reflect back over my life, the Lord truly ministered to me through music. There is a quote from outside an old opera house that says, “Bach gave us God’s word. Mozart gave us God’s laughter. Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us Music that we might pray without words.” Johann Sebastian Bach is quoted saying, “Where there is devotional music, God is always at hand with His gracious presence “, as well as “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” E.Y. Harburg quotes that “Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” These quotes lend themselves poetically to the role music has played in my life, especially my current spiritual journey which has brought me to Anglicanism. It is the beauty and theology of the liturgy and hymns that lift me into His presence! It is worshipping with my whole created and creative being, worshipping with my five senses, as Bishop Moyer has stated. It is like a brief glimpse into the worship scene described in Revelation Chapter 5. This was especially true for me Sunday with the passionate music played by Dr. Gatens and sung by the choir.
Our God is the Creator. When he created man He created us in His image. Creativity is part of that image so His creativity is in our DNA. Any Music, Art or Literature created by and enjoyed by human beings today is ultimately from Him. And yet, as glorious as man’s creations are this side of heaven, we are told in Romans Chapter 8, verses 19-22: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now.” If the creation is waiting to be delivered from the curse and effects of sin, then the beauty that we see and experience in nature and in “The Arts” is nothing compared to what it will be. No matter how moving and glorious, it is not what it will be! As it says in I Corinthians 2, verse 27: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” We can’t even imagine!
About 25 years ago I came across a song by Dottie Rambo called, “The Mercy Throne”. The song took hold of me almost like an addiction. I would play and sing it over and over again, never tiring of it. Its message of God’s forgiveness brought such peace and comfort to my soul. I did not know why at the time, but dark days were coming when my faith would be challenged as never before and the message of this song would be the healing balm. The chorus says: “Now I have gone to the Mercy Throne, bathed in the waters where sins are atoned. ‘Glory, Glory,’ I sang; ‘Holy, Holy my King.’ My sins without number have vanished and gone in the river that flows from the Mercy Throne, in the river that flows from the Mercy Throne”. Sunday morning Bishop Moyer mentioned the “Christus Rex”. This is the Mercy Throne. Even now, as I mouth words I haven’t sung in 25 years my eyes begin to well with tears.
I truly believe the Lord uses music to lead us to the “Christus Rex”, His Mercy Throne. And, if we have gone there, we will be part of that glorious congregation singing His praises in the book of Revelation. It will be music like none other. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18. What a day that will be!
May the music of this Lenten season draw us all to the “Mercy Throne”.
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