As a young boy attending worship, I sat on the front pew next to my Aunt Frances, who played the organ and piano at the small Baptist church.
The pastor was Clyde Majors, a seminary graduate serving his first parish. (Dr. Majors would become a learned and highly regarded professor in a Baptist college.)
Clyde Majors was a very good preacher but an even more memorable song leader. He conducted the congregation in singing each hymn. As the organ played the introduction, he would stand at the front of the center aisle. And then, his hands tracing the air in graceful flourishes, everyone joined in singing, especially Brother Majors himself, whose head was lifted high as his voice boomed throughout the nave.
Because of him, I became fascinated by the hymns and songs of the Church. “Love Lifted Me” and “The Old Rugged Cross” I found thrilling. Later, when I joined the Lutheran Church, I discovered a whole new set of wonderful hymns.
Inspired by what I heard, I started writing hymn texts myself. Later, my friend and colleague Chad Winterfeldt set the words to music.
All this is to say that a time of worship can be inspirational in many different ways. Through the preaching, singing, and praying, through the artistry of paintings and stained glass, through the lovely delicacy of candle flames or through the simple act of sitting in a pew surrounded by friends in faith, we are inspired—inspired to live the Christian life.
A recent hymn text I wrote, “Our Graceful Day,” speaks of this inspiration.
Our graceful day comes with the Son,
Our Holy Christ, the Risen One!
And death itself has been denied
By Love enfleshed, the Crucified.
The Spoken Word brings forth the earth
And fills this life with holy worth,
And lifts the hopeless from the dead—
Let us rejoice that night has fled!
We merit not the gifts received,
If ’tis not so, our faith’s deceived,
And we would be most surely lost
And in the restless waves be tossed.
We lift our hands in prayerful praise,
For it is God who fills our days
With love and peace and endless grace,
Forever held in God’s embrace
May you experience “love and peace and endless grace” as you worship.
Don Holmstrom is a pastor of the ELCA, having served most recently at First Lutheran Church in St. Peter, Minnesota. He also writes novels, hymn texts, and musicals for youth. He’s a native of Texas, husband of Rachel Larson, father of Susanna Holmstrom, caretaker of Dooley the dog.