Singing With the Saints

music musings, beaverdamusa.comThis musing is going to be a little different from my others.  It’s is going to be more reflective or personal.  For the past 10+ years, I have sung in the choir at my church – Kingston Springs United Methodist Church in Kingston Springs, TN.  If you are interested, I sing bass and love it. 

Our choir director is Julia Rich who is a gem and performed with the Glenn Miller Orchestra for years.  Her late father was a United Methodist preacher who served in the Middle Tennessee area for years. 

One of his stops was Tulip Street United Methodist Church in East Nashville.  Tulip Street was founded in 1859 with the building started in 1860 and finishing after the Civil War.  The architecture of the outside is beautiful and the inside is stunning and cathedral-like.  But, like many of these old churches, the neighborhoods are changing, people are changing how and where they worship.  With an average worship attendance of somewhere around ten, the decision was made to close this grand ole church.  

Like any good Methodist, when faced with a crisis – they decided to eat.  Seriously, a Homecoming/Last Service was planned where former pastors, members, and staff were invited back to celebrate the church to celebrate its history.  Our choir director was asked to come and sing since her father was pastor at Tulip Street, and she then volunteered to bring us to the festivities.  So we grabbed our robes and music and sang during communion as shown below.  [In case you wondering, I’m the bald dude on the back row on the far left, looking at the picture.]  

tulip1How about that beautiful pipe organ!  It was installed in 1891 and has had minimal alterations to it.  The sounds that came out of those pipes were magnificent.

Sitting and standing up there in the choir loft, my mind starting to wander – not during the sermon, of course.  I started thinking about all the people who sat where I sat over the last 150+ years.  What would they think about the church closing?  Did they hear the same pipes/bellows clicking as the organ played? 

I realized that I was part of the last choir to sing at this church.  Wonder what the first choir was like?  Wonder if the saints who have gone on gathered around on October 9, 2016 to watch that sanctuary once again be filled with music and people?  I would like to think so.  It was quite an honor to sing there and I really appreciate the opportunity.

Musing and singing with the saints

Zach

P.S.  Someone recorded the service and posted it on YouTube – the choir starts at 1:22 into the video at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruQ-5ghO9wQ).  

P.P.S. – You can check out the Tulip Street UMC page on Facebook for much more information.  I am also attaching some pictures of the church my sweet wife took.

tulip2

           tulip3tulip4tulip5

Why I Became a Methodist

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubsSo I have this routine whenever I write my blog. I usually wait until Tuesday evening. I go over to the Keurig coffee machine and make me a cup of decaf coffee in one of my many Chicago Cubs mugs. Then I sit down at the computer and start typing.

Coffee is made. Tastes pretty good. Mug looks great. Time for the blog!

This past Sunday was Father’s Day. I was very honored to have my dad and his wife in church with me at First United Methodist in Cleveland, Tenn.

They have visited with me before. My dad has come on several occasions. But there is nothing like having your dad sitting with you in the Lord’s house on Father’s Day.

After church, I took them to a very nice local restaurant to eat lunch. We all three had the rib-eye and Shrimp Father’s Day special. The food was incredible. The time we had together was even more special.

I love you dad! Happy Father’s Day…Every day of the year!

That brings up the subject of the blog.

Not long after we had ordered our food and my dad asked the blessing over the meal, Judy asked me a question.

It was not the kind of question that you just give a simple yes or no. It was not the kind of question that you can answer with one or two sentences.

This was a question that would take a little while to answer and explain…and I was excited to do so!

Judy’s question was this. “How was it that you chose to start going to the Methodist Church when you left the Church of God?”

The latter part of her question refers to almost four years ago when I made the decision to leave the Church of God for very personal reasons and look for another church to attend.

Let me make this very clear. I say the following without any hesitation or reservation. I LOVE the Church of God. I very much love the church that my father raised me in.

My father was a Church of God minister. He is retired now. He was my pastor all of my life growing up. I love the heritage that he raised me in, and I would not take anything for my Christian upbringing that he and mom afforded to me.

I grew up in a church that sang the hymns out of the church hymnal on Sunday mornings. I LOVE those old hymns. They have such incredible meaning. The hymns that were written by Charles Wesley, Fannie Crosby and many others who devoted their life to the ministry of music and church hymns.

I love hearing a message about God’s grace and God’s love toward us. I love hearing messages about the word of God and the incredible stories from the Bible. I love being challenged each and every Sunday to live a better life for Christ that I did the previous week. That is where the Holy Spirit comes in and a continual sanctification going on in our lives.

Enough of my theology. Let’s just say I had my own personal reasons to find a church where I felt comfortable — church like my father raised me in. To be ministered to like my father use to minister to me Sunday after Sunday.

I told Judy that the title “Methodist” was not why I started going to my church almost four years ago.

I did not care if the name of the church was First Church of the Folks that Love Jesus! It was not that the title was Methodist or Episcopal or Baptist or Lutheran or Catholic.

The title on the sign meant nothing to me.

What meant EVERYTHING to me was the incredible love that had been shown to me for over 20 years in that church.

Over those years, I have had many funeral services at First United Methodist Church. I have gotten to know many of the families in that church. They are some of the most loving and caring people that you could ever meet.

I had said for many years that if I ever left the church I had been going to, I would go to First United Methodist in a heartbeat!

So…four years ago I chose to start attending First Methodist.

From my very first Sunday there, I have felt like I was at “home”. I love the songs we sing. I love the sermons that are preached. (We have a Pastor that is pretty cool). But most of all I love the people in that church.

It does not matter who you are. It does not matter how much money you have or do not have. It does not matter what you have done in your past, good or bad. It only matters that they show you Christ’s love and they truly care about you.

I am a very strong advocate for church. And Lord knows we have plenty of them in Cleveland, Tennessee.

If you are looking for a church. If you are looking for a place to be loved and cared for. If you are looking for a place that sings the old hymns each Sunday and the pastor brings an incredible message of God’s love and God’s grace and the fact there is hope for all of us. If you are looking for all of those things…I invite you to come to First United Methodist!

When Pastor Tim greets you after church…tell him you heard about his church in Mark’s Blog!

Until next week!

Special note:  I know the blog had a little different message this week. Just wanted to share with everyone my love for my church and my love for God’s church.

Growing Up a P.K.

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comI grew up in a Church of God Preacher’s home. I was a “Preacher’s Kid”. Also known as a “P.K.”

I know most of you reading this blog have a very hard time believing that I was a preacher’s kid… but it is true. I have told many people “this apple” fell very far from the tree! My dad is the greatest man on the face of God’s green earth. He is a “Saint” in my eyes.

I know the Catholic Church has certain criteria that a Bishop or Priest must follow to become a Saint. However, my father has passed my criteria and that is all that matters. I have never heard my dad say a bad word in 50 years of being his No. 2 son.  He is a “perfect” person, or at least as close as one can get here on earth, in my eyes. My dad possesses every characteristic of the “fruits of the spirit”.

I know I talk a lot about my dad. I know I brag on my dad all the time. He deserves everything I say and a whole lot more. If you do not like the fact that I brag on my dad, please don’t read my blogs. As Staples Office Supply would say… “That was easy!”

I am very proud to have been raised a “P.K.”  I will be the first to admit that a lot more expectation was placed on me growing up in church than most of the member’s kids. I was expected to be a role model for the other young people in our church. I had to go above and beyond what was expected of the other kids in my age group.

I will admit, there were many times that “higher expectation” would bother me. I was always expected to be in every church service. I was expected to be at every church function. I was expected to be at every Awanas Club meeting. I was expected to play my trumpet during every church service.

Simply put… I was expected to be the very best Christian young man in the church.

My mother, God rest her soul, would put the fear of God in me if I did not do “all of the above” and then some! I was not allowed to talk in church. Back when I was a kid, you NEVER even thought of bringing food or drink into the sanctuary. It was a place of reverence and respect. You never brought a GameBoy or a coloring book or an iPad or whatever else it is that kids bring with them to church these days.

When church started… you behaved and paid attention and kept your mouth shut… or you paid for it when you got home!

I remember many times, my mother reaching over and pinching the fire out of the back of my leg because she thought I was misbehaving. I wanted to scream to the top of my lungs! OUCH!! STOP IT!! But I knew I better not do that. As a matter of fact, I probably deserved it!

There was no room for foolishness in the “house of God”. Neither one of my parents would tolerate any misbehaving or cutting up during service. You were there to worship the Lord and respect the presence of God in the service. When the opening hymn began… it was time for serious business with the Lord!

Fast forward to 2014.

I owe my mom and dad all the thanks and appreciation in the world for raising me the way they did. I could never thank either one of them enough for raising me in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I could spend from now until next year thanking them for teaching me the Bible and it would never be enough. I love them dearly for bringing me up in a church where you opened the hymnbook on Sunday and sang the hymns that had true meaning and depth and the writers of those hymns put much thought and prayer into their lyrics and music.

To this day, I still prefer to sing hymns out of the church hymnal. I was grieved many years ago when the church I was attending did away with the hymnbooks and started singing songs from a large white screen in the front of the church. Songs that nobody knew the words to. Songs that they sang over and over and over and you still could never learn the words… or the meaning for that matter.

I am proud to be a member at First United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee where every Sunday we still sing the hymns out of the Hymnal. We still sing songs written by Charles Wesley and many others in the faith from years and years ago. Songs that have such depth and meaning that when you are standing there singing and reading those words, you almost cannot help but start crying.

Everything inside of me… Every part of my being that has any and all desire to serve the Lord and to do right and to live right… I owe to my precious mom and dad.

I still have times where I make mistakes in life. I still have times, even at the age of 50 that I screw up and don’t always do the right thing. But when those times come, I have two things that I can go to in my life that will pull me out. I have two things to remember that will help get me back on the straight and narrow. I have two things that, to my dying day, will keep me at the foot of the cross and serve the Lord with all my heart.

Those two things… The fact that Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for my sins and His Grace covers me. And the fact that two Godly, loving, caring, incredible people raised me in a Christian home and brought me up to serve the Lord and live for him daily.

Dedicated to my mom, Patty Grissom 1934 – 2010 and my dad, Rev. Tom Grissom. I love you both with everything inside of me!

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