This month, we reflected on the meaning of community and the church in light of the scriptures. We see community in how the trinity is modeled in scripture: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We see community is one woman’s reflection of isolation in a time of socially distanced church. And finally, we see community is how a group of musicians gathered and worked together to make music with a new instrument in a short time period.
reflection & musical composition
The pandemic has been isolating on many fronts: programs we once relied on for connection have been scaled back; church was online for months and for many, continues to still be online. Several months ago, as I grappled with the loss of weekly choir rehearsals, park playdates, and the company of friends, I started to sit and wonder: what is the point of meeting together in person as the Church?
I must confess, there were days when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back to church. Did I really want to give up my quiet Sunday mornings, enjoying a full breakfast in my purple airplane Lularoes and oversized t-shirts, not having to drag my kids into the car? Was it really that important for me to be in the pew?
My first Sunday back for in-person worship I noticed a complete change in my mood: I felt relaxed. I felt content. I was seeing people for the first time in months, talking to adults in person, playing on a grand piano instead of my keyboard at home, and singing. The first time I got to play music in real time with my friend Sally Hernandez again I wanted to cry with joy. After a few months of worshiping with the people of Trinity only by way of a screen, I realized I had found the answer to my questions.
I missed making music with people, in real time. I am ever so thankful for the technology that allowed us to collaborate while we are apart, but there’s nothing like being together. There’s nothing like making music together: whether it’s in a band, in a choir, in the congregation, or in a makeshift tone chime ensemble.
“There is no such thing as a modern individualist in the psalms. It is a fundamentally communal book where individuals find their place in the world of faithfulness and faithlessness within the context of the community. Their sins are our sins (Ps. 85). I rejoice because we rejoice (Ps. 106). My lot is bound up in y’all’s lot (Ps. 111).” —W. David O. Taylor, Chapter 2: “Community” Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life
In isolation, it is easy and normal to start thinking that we are alone: we are unwanted, we are unloved, we are forgotten. And in the face of pain, especially pain caused by people in the church, we can find ourselves wanting to run away and withdraw.
But in the Psalms we see that there is no “modern individualist”—that the life of faith is not meant to be one lived alone. We are meant to live in community, to lament with those who lament, to rejoice with those who rejoice, to sit with each other in our times of grief and pain. We need each other for encouragement, exhortation, and discernment. We need to hear our brothers and sisters praying next to us and hear their voices harmonizing with ours in song.
When we connect with other Christians, particularly in person, we are connecting with Christ who dwells in every believer. We all have the same Christ, but our stories are all a little different. When we come together as the Church we can share what we have experienced of God’s work in the world. When you tell me about the Christ who dwells in you, I grow in love and knowledge of that same Christ who dwells in me.
Jill Ashoo, David Trautman, and I were talking about the doxology and someone asked about other melodies. I said I’d write one, and David challenged me to write it in the key of e minor. So I gave it a shot, and this is the result.
what was your
The concerns of coronavirus have prevented the choir for meeting for several months now. Many of us felt like choir was a community group, and we have missed having the weekly camaraderie of making music together. I had this wild idea one day in a meeting that we could pivot our ensemble to play tone chimes. I borrowed the tone chimes from my friends at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Tallahassee, FL. Sally Hernandez gave me tips on how to organize the music and teach it well. Loys Johnson reprised his role as our cantor for the Psalm. Maggie Flowers helped recruit extra musicians to come and play bells, and everyone worked together to help each other adapt to the new way of making music and working together. It was truly a work of community, and we managed the rehearse the piece in just two short rehearsals before Sunday morning, November 1st. This is the recording of our rehearsal taken Sunday October 25, the first day we rehearsed it.
One Word is an artistic endeavor of Trinity Anglican Church. On the first Friday of every month, we will debut an online gallery “scroll” on a particular theme. To read more about this effort and see our next word, click here.