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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Sing Out!

I always get choked up when the "Star-Spangled Banner" is sung before a fireworks display or a sporting event. It is moving to be in a large group of people all pausing for a moment to celebrate our country and our citizenship. It's even more moving when the people around me are actually singing.

More often than not the national anthem is performed by professionals -- rarely sung by the regular people in the stands. I wonder if the lower percentage of people singing the anthem is related to the drop in voter turnout percentages and increasing apathy toward our system of government.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor and theologian, wrote in his 1937 book, Life Together: "It is the voice of the Church that is heard in singing together. It is not you that sings, it is the Church that is singing, and you, as a member of the Church, may share in its song. Thus all singing together ... serves to widen our spiritual horizon, makes us see our little company as a member of the great Christian Church on earth, and helps us willingly and gladly to join our singing, be it feeble or good, to the song of the Church!"

Those of us who have had the opportunity to hear groups of people sing together in other cultures -- the country's national anthem before a soccer game in Europe or people in the Middle East singing at celebrations -- know they often sing lustily, regardless of whether they can sing or not. Vocal quality or ability doesn't matter: People singing in a full-throated manner together have an exuberance that transcends the song itself. We can't help but smile.

You probably have figured out where I'm going with this: We, the church of Jesus Christ, need your voice in worship. Whether you think it's good or not is immaterial. When we come for worship, we come as the one body of Christ and not as individuals. We need you to add your harmony to that body to make it complete.

As many of us are still in the process of learning our way through new hymns and new liturgies in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, it can sometimes be scary to sing out when you aren't completely sure of what comes next. We all need to recognize that all music was once new. The parish musicians are committed to presenting the melodies as clearly as possible. Your part is to sing out, willingly and gladly, to join the song of the body of Christ.

Check out this week's articles:Nick and his parents

Our family and church: (right)  If you hear Nick vocalizing, he's just worshiping.

Saint now, pastor later: Seminarian pitches for local team.

Pinwheels for peace: New York school advocates for nonviolence.

The way we were: 1901.

Also: Paws for prayer.

Also: Love as a way of life and The Band's visit.

Also: Deaconesses tithe to ELCA.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Discuss autism:

Gloria TresslerToday through Sept.16: Join Gloria Tressler (right) to discuss how congregations can be welcoming places for people with autism and their families.

Gloria's son, Nick, lives with the challenge of classic autism with severe language impairments and anxiety that manifests itself as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Consider reading "Our family & church" before joining in.

Join the discussion ...

This week on our staff blog:Julie Sevig

Julie Sevig (right) blogs about how many people share names.

Sonia Solomonson writes about childhood memories and leaving legacies.

Check out our staff blog...

Take our 2009 topics survey:

SurveyEvery year The Lutheran gives our readers the opportunity to help select the topics we'll cover the following year.

The Lutheran staff has collected your comments and suggestions throughout the year to create a list of 25 potential cover stories. Choose 10 from our list or suggest your own.

The deadline to complete the survey is Sept. 30. Results will appear in the December issue of The Lutheran.

Take the survey ...

The September issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived:

The Little Lutheran Don't let them miss another issue.

The Little Lutheran helps children 6 and younger learn about God's love for them and the world in which they live. It teaches them about Jesus, their friend and savior.
Subscribe today ...

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For only $15.95 you'll receive 12 issues of The Lutheran magazine in your mailbox. You'll also receive access to back issues' articles since 1996 and unlimited study guide downloads (regularly $3.50 each) at http://www.thelutheran.org//.

(Congregational subscriptions begin at $7.95 and include Web memberships. Call Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, for details about our congregational plans. 800-328-4648.)

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