By Rev. Sean Parker Dennison
Once upon a time, there was a congregation. It had been around for many years, 150 to be exact, and in that time it had a lot of names and did a lot of work, and sometimes it thrived and sometimes it struggled. In the times that it thrived, buildings were built and good works were accomplished, and sermons were preached, and people were happy. And in the times that it struggled, there were always people who kept on, doing what they could to keep the building from falling apart, helping with Sunday services, and holding onto hope. And every time the congregation struggled, it also grew stronger, more tenacious, and eventually, more loving.
Through all this, there was one constant. The people of the congregation loved music. They sang and they played and they listened and they learned and they loved the music that came from their own hearts and they loved the music that they made for each other. Not only that, they offered whatever music they could to those outside the congregation, and they did it in a way that spread music and love and justice beyond their own walls.
They became a Paradise people, committed to bringing a little bit of heaven right down to their tiny corner of this earth. They worked hard, they practiced hard, they had fun, and music held them together. The walls of the congregation rang with music and the hearts of the people were full of music: from the saddest songs that made them cry to the ones that made them laugh and shout and smile and dance together through times of folly and times of fantastic success.
When nothing else was going well, they relied on music to restore them, to keep them connected and to keep them going. They found amazing musicians to lead them, to teach them new songs, to show them how to practice, how to lay aside their differences and sing together, to create harmony.
They learned that music was not just something for fun, not just an extracurricular activity, but was the core of who they were when they were at their best, a way to build relationships that sustained them all, a way to BE the congregation they wanted to be. In a real way, the congregation was made of music: of the songs, but also the singing; of the way they worked together, even when things sometimes went wrong.
Together, they sang. They played. They listened. They learned. They composed and arranged and soloed and jammed and invited everyone to come, be a part of the music. Come to the coffee house, to Cabaret Church, to choir practice, to the concerts, and come every Sunday, to sing the hymns, to listen to the offertory, to soothe and encourage and uplift the soul.
In each generation, the congregation learned a new song. A new leader came forth and showed them the way. In a very real way, music held the congregation together and helped it thrive. Today, we are not the house that only one person built. We are the house that music built. So when you see someone here that has made your heart sing, has built this congregation with their commitment, talent, and hard work, who has played an instrument, or run the sound system, or sung a song, remember that they are part of what built this congregation, they are a part of the house that music built. Take a minute and tell them thank you.