Family Liturgies

Making Excuses

by Joe Greemore

The girl simply would not stop singing! In the car, in her room, living room, backyard, bath time, you name it. Our middle child was hopelessly addicted to mental reruns of “Let It Go,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and any other familiar-to-her-ears tune along with any particular combination of words, anywhere, anytime she deemed appropriate. It was kind of distracting, catchy even.

Little SingersEspecially on road trips. Which we take. A lot. Daddy likes to drive, gives him time to think, time to process. Go someplace new. Take a family trip. See a new sight, break bread with good friends, learn some fresh history. Even in a spacious full-size car like ours, the sound travels with amazing speed!

It’s a good thing the five of us, her biggest fans, like the singing. It’s kind of like the music in the movies the kids watch on our trips: familiar to the ears, heard it at least a dozen times…is the song getting on my nerves, or am I just really familiar with it? Yes? Honestly, the music is becoming part of who we are – it’s definitely part of who she is. When we confront her about her habit-forming heart-felt praise, she beams, replies, ‘thank you,’ and bursts into another on-the-spot concert. Her songs ground us, connect us to our stories. She is our little musical diva, our pop princess, and we celebrate her gifts of inspiration and creativity.

Do you ever sing just for-the-joy-of-it? You find something to sing about, something that triggers a memory, maybe something triggered by a memory, and dazzle the world with an impromptu pop concert? Our daughter doesn’t need a reason to sing – she just does it. She creates reasons. Which reminds me of Paul’s words to the Ephesians (5:20, The Message):

Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

As parents, children, humans, we make up excuses for everything. “She made me do it.” “He started it.” “I got busy,” or, ”I needed sleep – sorry I forgot to take out the trash.” “We needed a new one, so I bought it.” Excuses are like noses…we use them often. Maybe it’s time for a new genre of excuse-making: daily singing.

Sometimes our family sings a song my great-grandma taught me (based on Psalm 118:24) in my childhood: “This is the day the Lord has made – not like tomorrow or yesterday – he made it all in his own special way – so let’s all just sing and be glad. Amen.” Paul invites us to “sing praises over everything,” every little reason, the heartbreaks and the joys, sanctifying our daily life experience through song. Find any reason to sing a song of praise today and lift it up with joyous abandon! Not a great singer? Make a joyful noise! You may even discover it becoming contagious.

Questions for Reflection
-What songs do you sing as a family?
-If there’s a singer in your family, how can you encourage this gift, fanning it into flame (2 Tim. 1:6)?
-To what song or songs does your family listen most often? Reflect on how this shapes and influences your values.

Activity
Write a song.
Take a piece of paper and pen or pencil; write down some words about your day. Find the joyous moments and put them into words. Remember the difficult moments and growing points and sing about them, too.
Write together as a family, or write a song to sing to your family. Now try singing it with each other.
Reflect together on the journey you have taken today, and sing your song to God with praise!

Prayer
Divine Composer, thank you for the music of our lives. You imbue us with the humming brilliance of abundant life and the deep, mournful tones of grief. Thank you for every note! We reverberate with joy and wonder at this marvelous creation. We are moved to song by your life-giving ways. We sing for those who long for their daily bread. We thank you for the songs you sing to us, and that you invite us to sing and make music together with you and with one another. We sing and pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Joe and Shelby have three loveable children: Corbany, Addyson, and Greyson. Through life and ministry in Colorado, Kansas, and Iowa, the Greemores have learned the value of good friendships, hard work, and a deep trust in God’s providence and grace. Shelby is an Elementary Educator and stay-at-home mom, and Joe is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches USA serving as pastor at the historic First Baptist Church or Waterloo, Iowa.

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