By Regina Shands Stoltzfus, assistant professor of peace, justice and conflict studies at Goshen College
Reprinted from Advent Devotionals
I remember singing this Psalm of David, clothed in a blue robe, swaying to the beat with the rest of the choir as we entered the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. I am grateful for the rich diversity of musical styles I was able to experience growing up in my home church. The diversity of styles came about in part because we were diverse in other ways – racially and economically were probably the most evident. We also had people who lived right in the city, and people from the suburbs and surrounding rural areas. With people from so many backgrounds, it would be strange if we didn’t have a diversity of worship music.
The youth choir began when I was a teenager, and we sang gospel music. Although representative of our church’s African American membership, the choir was by no means limited to that group. We loved singing gospel music together so much that, as young (and then older) adults we stayed in the choir. The name shifted from “youth” to “gospel” choir, and eventually became (and still is) an intergenerational group.
That home church with the diversity of people and music is where I came to know and love God. Through worship, and especially through singing, I learned the stories of God’s people, God’s love and God’s call to be peacemakers. Here I learned to sing in the company of others, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord!”
Psalm 122 (NRSV)