Each Sunday morning, as I start the coffee and wash up the dishes from the night before, I sing—softly, because Helen is still sleeping—the theme song from each of the churches of my life. Most of those were churches where I was pastor, but in some I was “just” a lay person. Each has an iconic song, a song I associate with that church whenever I hear it. I sing only first verses; otherwise I’d still be singing at supper time.
I start with East Park in Indianapolis, where I lived from ages four to ten, and where--with my older sister, Mary V—I was confirmed. Its song is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” because it was there that I portrayed the young shepherd who learned the true meaning of Christmas in the play, Why the Chimes Rang.
I end with St. Mark’s in Bloomington, “In Christ There Is No East or West.” We’ve sung it only once in the four years since we moved “Back Home Again, In Indiana,” but it sums up the inclusive philosophy of our current congregation.
My second church, the open-country little Forsythe Methodist, when I was ages ten to eighteen, is “Higher Ground.” First Methodist in Bloomington, where I attended as a college freshman… Well, I won’t bore you with my complete listing, because it will be more fun if you compile your own list.
That is, I’d say something like “make your own list” if I were still writing, But since I now just jot down stuff that’s interesting to me, I’ll desist. One must write to give advice. [It is fun, though, to make your own list.]
John Robert McFarland
“There’s within my heart a melody…”