Adolescence can be a roller coaster ride for parents and child. Ups. Downs. Highs. Lows. Emotions running amuck. My mom and dad may have a different opinion, but from my perspective, my teenage years were relatively calm ones. I spent most of my time in those years on the piano bench accompanying a gospel quartet.
My mom sang alto in the Gloryland Way Quartet out of Round Top Baptist Church in the heartland of Kentucky. For a tiny church, there were some fabulous voices. The pastor (who was all of 22 maybe) sang bass. We had a fabulous tenor, another who sang lead, and my mom rounded them out with her wonderfully rich alto voice. I started playing piano at the church regularly when I was 13, so I played for them as well that first time they sang together for a Sunday service.
We “performed” all over the place in countless churches at revivals, homecomings, singings… Being a teenager, I’m sure I complained about something. Honestly though? I loved every moment of it! They had such a great time practicing that it was impossible to be miserable. They treated me with respect and kindness. They treated me as an adult, and they valued what I was doing for them. This is tremendous when you’re 14 or 16. While my peers were going to the movies, hanging out together at football games, or whatever they did, I was playing piano for this little group of friends who made me feel special. Important. Valuable.
I played for them and for the church until I went away to college. The pastor was called away to another church. My mom and dad moved away to their current home. The lead singer has passed on into Glory. The tenor remains there at that little church, serving and working. My mother still sings in her church choir. And I still sit on that bench.
Yesterday, I had a little taste of this memory. The quartet I work with now was invited to do the entire morning service at a little church in eastern Kentucky. It brought back so many memories! And it felt so natural to be there, in that little church, playing gospel music with my friends who love me, value what I do for them, and treat me with respect and kindness. We had so much fun! It’s hard to be miserable with friends who make you laugh.
We closed the service yesterday with the song that’s still in my head this morning. Loving God, Loving Each Other. “making music with my friends. Loving God, loving each other and the story never ends.” Because if we keep telling The Story of Jesus and his priceless gift, it will never end. Because once you have Jesus, you want to tell the world! We just choose to do it with music.