Fall is fast approaching, and here in the Northern Hemisphere that means harvest time - agriculturally speaking. But in the Church, most of us have just gotten a bunch of programs started that correspond to the academic year, and so while the fields around us are being harvested, things are just starting to sprout in our various plots of the Lord's vineyard.
True, we've had a summer full of "green" Sundays - i.e. when the paraments are green to reflect the liturgical season of the Sundays after Pentecost, known as the "Time of the Church". This is a season of growth, and the readings focus on sanctification, fellowship, vocation, and trust. Certainly we have grown as the body of Christ as the Spirit nurtured us in God's words and promises. But the programs of the Church are on a different "growth pattern" as they are by necessity more in sync with the academic calendar than the pericopes of the Church Year. And so our program years are just now getting off the ground.
How is your garden growing? Here at Liturgy Solutions, I am pleased to report that things are going very well at Bethany. The "fishing for choristers" expedition went exceedingly well. We're up to 24 kids in the parish children's choir, with three more expected to come after soccer season. Meanwhile our day school junior high choir has grown from about 30 kids to 56! We did have a couple of adult choir members move away - but we have picked up 3 new members and are holding steady at 36. Our contemporary and youth ensembles remain strong, as do our bell and brass groups, and new things are happening as well: a new bell choir for beginners is forming, and our day school music teacher is discipling new youth brass & wind ensembles in addition to his school band program. All in all, 148 people participate regularly in music ministry at Bethany - not bad for a congregation that averages about 575 in worship!
Certainly this all happens by the Lord's hand. His Spirit has given us a singing faith, and the people of Bethany love His song. But He uses us to bring forth the harvest, and this talent would not be manifesting itself so abundantly were it not for the faithful service and support of our pastors, our staff and the many, many volunteers who do over-and-above things to make things happen.
All this does not happen in a vacuum. We give God the glory for assembling such a great team, and for granting us the wisdom and resources to build a quality program. Some of this wisdom is associated with some of the topics we have already blogged about here at Liturgy Solutions. The E-fast was inspired by Dr. MacDaniels address at the Institute, and was part of a congregational renewal campaign that brought forward many volunteers. The "fishing for choristers" expedition used several resources, including the "Singing the Faith" video I picked up at the Institute. And there are so many resources available today to help a congregation build a program.
The Lord has similarly blessed you with people and resources for leading His song in a way that is most appropriate for your parish. Success requires your dedication, your labor, your passion, and your perseverance, but He has given you a song to sing, and faith to sing it. We at Liturgy Solutions are here to provide additional resources and our collective wisdom to assist pastors and musicians as they plant and nurture programs for worship and music.
We rejoice that things are sprouting up here at Bethany, and pray that your garden is growing as well. If things are not, and you think you could use a little help tilling the soil, casting seed, or otherwise caring for the liturgical harvest, consider our consulting services. Conferences are great, and books can be very helpful, but sometimes the voice of experience can best address your particular situation. Let us know if we can help!