A more profound Alleluia!

Dr. Herbert M. Gotsch, Associate Professor of Music – 1972 Pillars yearbook. Photo courtesy of Concordia University- Chicago.

“How often, making music, we have found / A new dimension in the world of sound. / As worship moved us to a more profound Alleluia!.”- Lutheran Service Book 796, verse 2

“Let Christ’s teaching live in your hearts, making you rich in true wisdom.  Teach and help one another along the right road with your psalms and hymns and Christian songs, singing God’s praises with joyful hearts.”- Colossians 3:16, J. B. Phillips New Testament

My interest and exposure to music started at a young age.  When I turned three, mom and dad bought me an inexpensive portable record player.  As a result, I first selected an album of marches.  Later, my parents enrolled me in a children’s record club.  That club introduced me to classical music.

Furthermore, as mom noted in her family memoir, as soon as I was old enough, I asked permission to sing in the children’s choir at my home church, Ashburn Lutheran.  Hence, I received my first formal music training under the guise of Dr. Herbert M, Gotsch, then Ashburn’s organist and choir director.  In fact, Dr. Gotsch once told my mother that he believed I possessed perfect pitch.  Because I sang alto without getting distracted by the sopranos.

About a decade later, during my freshman year at Concordia – River Forest, the music department assigned Dr. Gotsch as my organ instructor.  My previous connection with Dr. Gotsch enriched those lessons.  A very unassuming and soft-spoken man, he didn’t look the part.  Compact with short fingers, he nevertheless raised a more profound Alleluia.  Because he was grafted to the Vine.

Writing in his latest book, When Your Way Isn’t Working: Finding Purpose and Contentment through Deep Connection with Jesus, Kyle Idleman underscores that Jesus states He is the true vine (John 15:1).  In addition, the word true also translates as real.  Therefore, that means other vines exist – imitation vines.  Pastor Idleman takes a look at four.

1.  The information vine.  Our current information overload has birthed a syndrome called IFS — information fatigue syndrome.  Consequently, IFS produces a number of side effects.  Those side effects include (a) less internal reflection and (b) an increase in difficulty to prioritize what’s important.

2.  The politics vine.  Frustrated and angry, people look to politics to provide something better.  But, Kyle stresses, there’s a reason the kingdom Jesus brought wasn’t a democracy.  Because the politics vine promises change via power and legislates a different kind of fruit.  All to no avail.

3.  The romance vine.  You connect with that special someone and look to that person as your source of strength.  Essentially, you ask that person to function as Jesus in your life.  Or to do what only the Holy Spirit can do.  And that’s a tall order.  One that can’t possibly happen.

4.  The me vine.  Finally, after you try enough imitation vines, you recognize all of them fail to deliver the strength and nutrients you desperately need.  Thus, you decide you truly can only count on yourself.  So, you focus on self-help and personal growth.  You exercise and take care of yourself.  Certainly, all these things can be good.  However, placing your hope in yourself always leads to disappointment.

In conclusion, Kyle notes, the technique of getting a stick grafted to the vine is called bleeding.  To raise a more profound Alleluia, then, he exhorts:

“Jesus bled so that sticks could become branches, and branches could bear good fruit.  As the true vine, Jesus makes a way for sticks that have fallen off, that seem to have no purpose, and no hope to become branches once again.  Jesus’ death on the cross is the one thing — the only thing — that makes connection possible.”

About the author

Dave Henning


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