I like hymns. I'm not afraid to say it, although today they are often criticized as being stuffy, irrelevant, and completely out of sync with today's culture. We once had a visiting preacher who was on the board of our denomination say that while he loved the new praise choruses, he hoped that hymns wouldn't be phased out all together, because in learning hymns, we learn doctrine. I heard another leader say once that hymns are all about God, while praise choruses tend to focus more on our experiences with God.
One thing that I appreciate about BSF is that we do sing hymns. The hymns are intentionally chosen to teach and go along with the lesson, adding to the weekly lesson. For me hymns are not stuffy, not irrelevant. Singing them and hearing them is beautiful, worshipful, and relevant to my experience with God. This appreciation of hymns and the fact that I actually know hymns, which fewer and fewer people do since they are sung less and less frequently, led me to volunteer for my church's nursing home ministry.
Each Sunday a team goes to a nursing home and provides a church service for the residents. Most of them are in wheelchairs. Some of them are blind. Others can't hear well. Their minds are confused. But when the piano begins to play, they sing. Men and women who can't remember that their spouse has been dead for ten years remember these songs.
I joined the team on Sunday. We began the service by singing a few hymns. A short message was given, and then we closed with four or five more hymns. One of the last that we sang was "The Old Rugged Cross." Even when it was played as a prelude while the residents were filing in, they could not stop themselves from humming or singing along, so when it came time to sing it, their voices were strong.
They love this hymn.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,I sang along with them, and this time I didn't have to suppress a giggle and I didn't poke fun later on in private. I wish that this present life didn't hold me back from clinging to that cross for all I'm worth. I'm going to keep singing and keep watching this generation who is once again able to have the faith of a child that Jesus Himself praised.
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."