Of Songs and Cinnamon
After more than 45 years of leading the choir at Elmhurst CRC, Marve Wolterstorff has chosen to pass the baton. While our church choir is in a year of transition at present, we have so much to look back on and be thankful for — and, by God’s grace, some bright days to look forward to as well.
When Marve started leading our choir in the mid-1970s, gas was about 50 cents a gallon, you could send a letter for a dime and buy a nice house in Chicagoland for about $40k... and Jimmy Hoffa was just about to disappear. One person who didn’t disappear from church life was our choir director. I calculate that Marve has led our worship services more than 1,500 times over the years (45 years x 35 services per year will get you there)! It’s only right for us to pause this Sunday to thank him — and to thank God — for such a long season of faithfulness.
We’ve all been forced into an extraordinary amount of change over the past 18 months. Change is hard. Change is often experienced as grief and accompanied by feelings of sadness and loss. When it comes to music and worship — parts of church life that speak deeply to our souls — change can be especially thorny. In the Book of Psalms, there are two counterbalancing refrains that God has given to help us navigate these changes:
(#1) “Remember the works of the Lord” and (#2) “Sing a new song unto the Lord.”
First, God asks that we continue to remember the great, redemptive things he has done. Musically speaking, we do well to remember the great music of the past that praises God especially well — and we will. For example, I hope we continue singing “Hallelujah Chorus” for a good, long time. Secondly, the Holy Spirit is always up to something new and the church’s musical response through the ages has been to write new music and sing new songs. Several folks have commented on the recipe of “old and new'' in our worship services these last couple of months. Yes! I’m heartened by these observations! And it’s about more than the music. In preaching and in our devotional lives, we remember the great acts of the Lord as recorded in Scripture and church history while also leaning into the fresh direction of the Holy Spirit.
Seasons of change require extra grace. One of the lovely, gracious things that Marve has routinely done to provide for the choir during holiday services and special occasions is to provide homemade cinnamon rolls. I’ve had a few over the years, myself, and attest they are100% delicious!
This Sunday’s worship service will conclude with a time of fellowship and celebration out on the East patio — and we’ll serve cinnamon rolls by the hundreds! I hope you're able to join in person this Sabbath Day not only for the cinnamon rolls, but to thank Marve, and to (most importantly) offer our worship to the Shepherd of our souls, even Jesus. Peace to you,
- Pastor Gregg