My husband is a professionally trained and educated musician. I am not. I would love to be able to sing like him, but I learned a long time ago that it’s better if I just stay back in the alto section of the choir and try not to stand out. I do that every chance I get, because music is something that really speaks to me when nothing else can. Sometimes it’s the melodies that move me, other times it’s the lyrics. It comforts me. It reassures me. It inspires me. It motivates me.
A few years ago, my husband felt lead to bring together voices that don’t normally sing together and thus the Voices of Colleton Community Choir was born. Even though the roster changes a bit with every program, the individuals in the group represent different cultures, races and religious backgrounds.
We are currently working on a patriotic musical, “Homeland.” While we have had numerous rehearsals, the most recent one just about did me in. I could feel the pulse of the trumpet fanfare in my chest in the prelude to “The Marine Corps Hymn.” Later we sang, “In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me; As He died to make men holy let us live to make men free! While God is marching on.”
I was struck with the simple but profound reality that I am free. Not everyone in this world can say that. I stood in the midst of this group of diverse singers that had found a way to harmonize on the message of freedom. From the back row of the alto section, I found myself standing in a picture of the American melting pot. The freedom to stand here and sing about the sweet land of liberty is what we have in common.
The book of Galatians says that I was called to be free. Verses 13 and 14 of Chapter 5 tell me why: "But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
My father was a World War II veteran. He was about 21 years old when he boarded the Queen Mary, bound for the European war theater. We have a few pictures of him as a handsome, smiling, young sailor in his Navy uniform, but for a very long time that was the only evidence we had that verified his military service. He was in his 80s before we ever heard him talk about crashing through the waves aboard a watercraft in the English Channel on D-Day. He never talked about the struggle or the sacrifice, even though he no doubt experienced both.
He did, however, show me time and time again how to serve one another humbly in love. Even in his last hours on this earth, I witnessed him selflessly thanking others and expressing love to them. He was able to do that because he took his call to freedom seriously.
When we sang “Anchors Aweigh” in rehearsal, I was flooded with thoughts of him. The “until we meet once more, here’s wishing you a happy voyage home” message felt personal. He made his final voyage to his eternal home four years ago and now enjoys the only true freedom, gained by loving God and serving others while he was on this earth. Until we meet once more, Daddy.
Yes, we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it doesn’t come free or without responsibility. We are all called to serve. I hope that you will allow us the privilege of serving you by sharing this musical presentation with you. Please be our guest Sunday, May 31, 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church as the Voices of Colleton Community Choir presents “Homeland.”
May God bless you and God bless America.
This was originally posted Sunday, May 24, 2015 on the Press and Standard website: