Monday, May 15, 2006

on behalf of every man

For Mother’s Day, I sang “Daughters” during the morning worship in the last two services. I worried quite a lot about it beforehand, but decided (under Al’s influence) that if I set it up correctly it would be heard well and all would be fine. In the end, I got precisely two comments concerning the song. The first comment was from my son, Will, who said, “Dad you sure can pick a tear-jerker, all the women around me were crying.” The second comment came from a man who came to the stage as I was coiling cables and said, “Hey Rod, I liked that song you did, that was kinda jazzy.”
So I’ve tried to analyze what makes something work in the minds of the general congregation. Sometimes I wonder if lyrics are just heard as noises that serve to carry the vocal melody and ultimately carry as much meaning as the guitar riffs, but now and again, someone hears a song, and I realize that must not be the issue. So now I have another theory.
Most recently, I’ve done two songs about which I was a bit anxious. Both were tied to the service intentionally, and no song could have done better to carry the message. The first was “Check it Out”, then “Daughters” yesterday. My new theory is that I can play general songs apart from the worship set, as long as they are written by someone named John. I believe I’ll try out “It’s a Big Ol’ Goofy World” by John Prine, and maybe “Born on a Bayou” by John Fogerty. I’d do, “Proud Mary”, but they might think that is by Ike Turner, and everything would be messed up.
Yesterday, I felt like I succeeded for the first time ever, in tying all the peripheral elements of the service together, and it was the result of the Mayer song. It opened with a children’s (all girls) choir of probable future mothers. Then there was a baby dedication, which I called a “parents dedication”. We sang Jesus Loves the Little Children as the parents and babies returned to their seats. Then I sang “Daughters”, followed by “Children of the Heavenly Father”, and other songs about humility and love, attributes necessary in preparing tomorrow’s mothers.

I don’t know if the average congregation member would catch the Mother’s Day focus on raising up tomorrow’s mothers, as the day usually focuses on celebrating people currently in the role of mother. But I thought it might be proper to think for the moment beyond dinner, diapers, soccer games, homework, and laundry, to the not-so-distant future when our parenting abilities will be made manifest in our children’s ability to parent, when our ability to love will be made manifest in our children’s ability to love. What kind of lovers and mothers will our daughters become? I believe our ability to love is so entirely dependent on our having been loved. I think this is biblical. We love God because he first loved us. We learn to love and receive love from our spouses and children by being loved by our parents. And love is not busyness. It is not attending every activity that every kid is participating in, though these are certainly good commitments. These things can be accomplished without love.
Love is what a kid senses as the feeling of the selfless heart of a parent and responds to with trust and confidence, a trust and confidence that will in turn be easily given to a spouse, and be grown into love that will nurture and nourish the hearts and souls of children to become parents.

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