A wonderful tradition has started among my closest circle of friends. The idea was first implanted into my heart by my then-pastor, Don Finto. In many cultures around the world, there is a “coming of age” ceremony where a young person is affirmed by his or her elders and is recognized as “one of them.” The most well known, I suppose, is the Jewish tradition of the Bar Mitzvah. For most modern day evangelical families, however, no such recognition exists. And that’s too bad.
Our culture reels from the generation gap of the sixties and the age-segregated model of education our government and (unfortunately) our churches espouse. We’ve lost something and at least a few of us are trying to get it back. We seek multi-generational relationships. We want to be mentored, fathered, and blessed. And we want to do the same for our children and grandchildren.
So, my friend, Rick had a “Blessing Party” for his 13-year-old daughter over the weekend. After a time of worship, his young daughter was seated on a stool and different adults who were meaningful to her (mostly women) would bless her with prayers, scripture, or simply traits that they admired in her. I had the privilege of leading worship. Here was my set.
- I See You (Rich Mullins) with a reading from Psalm 139
- Reading of Deut. 6:4-5, going into
- You’re Worthy of My Praise (David Ruis)
- You Are the One (Keith Green, with a new chorus by Jillian Harding and Ginger Ludlow)
- Be Thou My Vision (my arrangement of the traditional hymn)
- The Celebration Song (In the Presence of Your People) (Brent Chambers)
The party was outdoors with no sound system. I played acoustic guitar and sang, while a friend played guitar / mandolin. Oh yeah, I also stomped on a tambourine during the last song.
A couple of things influenced my song choice. I was asked to concentrate on songs “to God” rather than “about God” and I knew that we didn’t have a way of projecting lyrics. This led me to use familiar songs and “call-and-response” songs that would allow me to “feed” the words to the crowd. I love “I See You.” It’s about how God goes before us and directs our lives (“Everywhere I go, I see You / Everywhere I go, I see You”). The main message to my friend’s daughter was “we see what God is doing in you and it is good” and this song affirms that notion nicely. It’s always challenging when leading a group that may not share the same repertoire. My friend is from Canada and grew up Church of Christ. Many of the extended family came down from Canada. I could not assume that they sang the same songs as we do in Nashville in our Music Row church. I wanted to honor his family by including some songs they were likely to know. (Yes, we sang a capella a bit).
The least known song is probably “The Celebration Song.” It’s a Jewish-sounding number and as I led it, everyone circled up and danced. … Not very familiar, not “call-and-response,” and certainly not very Church of Christ, but it was the daughter’s request, so it trumped. And it trumped beautifully.