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renewing Belief

by | Dec 26, 2021 | Belief, renew, The Staple Singers

🖋 My early church experience includes another basic Belief that many find somewhat hard to believe: Fun. For example, on New Year Eve we would always have a party – at the Church. We would have dinner together late as Church family, watch a cheesy family movie (16 mm projected…), and then at Midnight, an old man would walk through the door one way, and another man+ would come back – dressed up as a baby 😉 A bad visual, but characteristic of that group of people that formed my Belief that Fun is needed to renew us…

… every Christmas, Dad and one of the College Kids would take our reel-to-reel tape deck and speakers over to the Church. They carried them up into the Steeple to play Christmas Songs and Hymns for the season. And that was typical – we were always involved in something there to help make things more welcoming. Our “love language” has always been “doing”, which has a downside when it comes to renewal for sure, but it mostly played out as lots of great memories throughout.

Our current Church has been interesting to get used to. Close to UVa, many, if not most, of those around us are PhD’s in something theological. I often feign that I really don’t know much – but here that is no joke 😉 These people are literally on a whole different level. Last week I was waiting to catch up with someone on a logistical question and he finally leaned forward and said, “This is going to take a while – we are settling the issue about Israel’s proper place in the scripture”. Another time, I overheard someone say “Hey – I finished re-reading Plato’s Republic last night for our Bible study”. I said, “Wait – that was Saturday Night??”

As a small boy, in discussion with my parents, they said they didn’t believe in The Devil. Their argument made sense to me: if you need fear to scare you into something, then you don’t really Believe it. It is simply a reaction, and not something that will really be helpful to you or others. I have recently rethought that, but honestly, my formative Beliefs were strong enough without worrying about guilt or fear. That has made the last 2 years the hardest for me. Making everyone afraid is a deep-seated trigger that, when I’m exposed to it, does not bring out my best 😉 Probably from growing up short and dealing with bullies that I had to interact with… and not letting them see they had any effect on me, even when they did.

🎵 As I looked for pictures of The Staple Singers, I was unable to find one where they were not smiling. Individually or collectively. You could, of course, say that the PR people wouldn’t let them out… but I think it is much deeper than that. The joy of the Gospel permeated their existence… IN SPITE of what was happening around them. They found their Faith was renewing, and also, came out of them in the Fun they created. Yes – deep and challenging lyrics, but always delivered with a wink and a knowing smile.

A good friend asked, “Why did you choose the Staple Singers of all the groups for this week?” A great question – and one that took me a minute to answer. First, they were so integral to helping to change the world around us with nearly everything they did. Singing, campaigning, just renewing themselves enough to make it through the complex ’60s and ’70s and still be smiling. That is a pretty good reputation, to say nothing of the amazing Music where we only touched the tip of the Iceberg (remember that reference about Values). Including missing their great chapter with Curtis Mayfield, another jokester of this era. So … at some point, Let’s Do it Again.

🖋 But as I close out the week with them, I want to encourage you to really reflect on your Beliefs. I gave out a poster to the 5th/6th Grade student I taught in Sunday School with a great quote from St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel always. Use words only when necessary”. The wry smile that quote brings is something that renews me. I am reminded of another card I was given by a co-worker that captured my motto: “God doesn’t mind if you mix in a little fun, so long as you get the message across”. I hope this week has brought you a few smiles, a few deeper thoughts, and most importantly, some great music. This life is supposed to be Fun, renewing us for an even better one: Heavy Makes You Happy.

I’ve been trying to find what’s heavy
That’s been messing up my mind
I think I found the answer
‘Cause it was right there all the time

Heavy makes you happy
I just got to say
Put on your heavy
If I can’t feel this way

Come on, come on
(Sha-na-boom boom, yeah)
Do it, do it, do it, do it
(Sha-na-boom boom, yeah)
(Sha-na-na-na-boom boom, yeah)

By talking to my people
You know that it occurred to me
It’s more than just a feeling
It’s a philosophy

Heavy makes you happy
Drying up your drink
Oh, spread a little heavy
And it makes somebody sing

Come on, y’all
(Sha-na-boom boom, yeah)

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