Following is an article written by the new Seminarian at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Chicago. He offers a great deal of insight into his coming to terms with (1) the organ (2) traditional liturgy and (3) genuine worship.
It should be noted that the church has a superb musician, namely David Brackley (a member of our Triune Music Family). David often comments on the uniqueness of this congregation which sings as though “God was deaf.” Chris Brown & Holy Trinity Church offer some unique insight….
Where I’m At
Let me start by saying hello and it’s amazing to be at Holy Trinity and to have the opportunity to serve with everyone for the next academic year. I’d like to explain where I’m at in regards to my worshipping makeup, but before I do I should introduce a little background. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I’m a Southern California boy at heart and successfully made it through my first winter, which was an adventure in itself. I’m a pretty laid back person, and I love to go with the flow in life. My experiences have been one of just riding the wave and reflecting on whether it was fun or terrifying, and then waiting to catch the next one. My life in the church has been recently renewed about three years ago, so it’s accompanied with a less traditional mindset. I’m coming into this internship with two different perspectives that inevitably lead me to openness in this whole experience. Both perspectives are enveloped in excitement in how this next year will play out, my relationship with everyone at Holy Trinity, and the growth I anticipate. The first perspective comes from suspicion and distaste, which over the last year has greatly diminished and evolved into childlike curiosity. The second perspective is rooted in my progressive upbringing and desire for a world of human beings and not nations, classes, categories, etc.
I grew up in a home church with traditional and contemporary worship. The most significant difference was the music. The traditional, as could be guessed, consisted of hymns from the Lutheran hymn books of past and present, accompanied by the organ and the people within this context stuck their noses in their hymn books and mumbled the words as each melody played out. No one seemed authentic and genuine worship seemed absent. I started my seminary life wanting to chop the organ into little pieces and having an awesome campfire in which we could all roast mallows and tell ghost stories. This initially caused a strong distaste of what has been labeled “high church.” However, this has shifted over the last year, and I must say that experiencing the organ, the ELW hymns, and the traditional liturgy at Holy Trinity that last two weeks has been an extreme eye opener. I have already felt genuine worship and praise for God in a context I thought impossible, and I’m stoked to see how this evolves and shapes me further.
The second perspective compliments the first. I was most thrilled to work at Holy Trinity because of its progressive reputation. God’s universal love and grace for all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity/culture, social and geographic location, and faith belief is central to who I am. It is one of the primary reasons I was called to a life of ministry. Seeing the multitude of diverse people at Holy Trinity advocating for the oppressed, marginalized, and those without a voice is renewing, refreshing, and affirming. Excited does not do justice to how I feel about the upcoming year. If I had to choose a word I think it would be wholeness. I feel God has placed me at Holy Trinity and being here feels nothing more or less than God’s will. This is a little piece of me coming into worship with all of you and I’m grateful for the welcome I’ve already received and I joyfully look forward to learning more about all of you.
~Seminarian Chris Brown
The Rodgers Pipe Organ at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL