Monday, January 2, 2012

Still largely unheeded

I am finally reading the Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas, which got so much good press a couple of years ago. It was on my Q.v. list, then one day son Pat shot me an urgent email: it was that day's "Kindle pick of the day" for just $1.99. It became (a) the first Kindle book I'd spend money on, and (b) the first was actual in a Kindle edition I'd download. (That is to say, all my previous Kindle books are old public domain items.) But it remained unstarted until the Christmas week vacation.

Imagine my delight, this morning, to read the following:
Bonhoeffer asked his students whether they sang Christmas carols. Their answer was noncommital, so he said, "If you want to be pastors, then you must sing Christmas carols!" For him, music was not an optional part of Christian ministry, but de rigeur.

I'm afraid this advice is still hardly given to ministry students. Not just about Christmas carols, but about congregational singing in general, and about music not being "optional" in Chrisitan ministry. One of our recent pastoral residents at College Church spent time with Mark Dever (Capitol Hill Baptist Church, D.C.), who insisted that preachers must know hymns well enough to pick them out themselves for their sermons. I don't mean to be uncharitable when I suggest that most of our colleagues around the table thought that the notion was quaint, at best. (To be fair, though, one of our current residents is going a step farther, and developing the even more noble art of writing hymnic poetry.)

I'm a latecomer to the Bonhoeffer biography, though I have read much of his work through my adult life. If this isn't on your list of books "to be read" (Q.v.) let me enourage you to put it there. And don't take too long to get at it!