We are an Easter people and “Alleluia” is our song.
Bishop Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)
As many of you know, music has played an important role all throughout my life. I started my unofficial piano lessons with my sister Jean at age six. I joined the Junior Choir at the age of eight since that was the earliest age that you could join. I played in the bell choir beginning in fifth grade. Music has always been there as a friend, helping me deal with all of life’s issues and as an expression of contemplation and worship.
We are an Easter people. These words from St. Augustine roll around in my head from time to time. In the deep recesses of my mind, I recall a song like that that we used to sing in Sunday School, but the tune seems to be illusive – just beyond the edge of my memory. I’ve pondered these words for years. What does it mean to be an Easter people and have ‘alleluia’ as our song?
As some of you are aware, I used to tour with Lutheran Youth Encounter in a band called Common Bread. I recall the first time that I was introduced to the ministry of Lutheran Youth Encounter. I was in middle school and was in awe of the words and the music that I heard. I remember it as a life changing event and I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to audition for the band as soon as I felt old enough. In a way, I fell in love with this ministry and knew that I was to be a part of it. They brought a message of love and hope that I still carry with me this day.
At the ripe old age of nineteen, I felt that it was my time to apply and audition. I was placed on a National Team that toured the East Coast. We were one of four National Teams and three International Teams in 1984. It was an amazing two years, making relationships, spreading the message of God’s love, and going on an adventure every single day. So many experiences form us through life. This was a major life experience for me.
Sadly, I received a phone call last month from an old LYE friend. After fifty-one years in the ministry, Lutheran Youth Encounter was closing its doors. One thing is for certain, the way we do ministry has been changing over the past several years, and this closing truly signifies the need for change. However, I have been struggling with this change. It saddens me that something that brought such life and joy will no longer be there. It saddens me that my children will not have the opportunity hear the message in this format, or even be a part of a team if they so desire. It feels like a huge loss.
As I contemplated this loss, the words from St. Augustine came back to me. To be an Easter people is to always live in hope, that new life springs forth even in the midst of loss, pain and grief. I am waiting for what will come next now that LYE is no more. I know that something will come next. That is how the Spirit works. I don’t know what it will be, just that it will be.
To be an Easter people means living in hope for what comes next. Life is full of twists and turns. We cannot see what is before us, but we can move forward even when we feel stuck in grief. We never make the journey alone, and for that, I can only sing ‘Alleluia!’
May Easter peace be yours,