In our household, when I was quite young, we had a record player. I don’t remember my exact age; perhaps I was 4 years old? It belonged to one or both of my older sisters. Looking back, I never did ask whose it was. I just knew that it wasn’t mine.
I snuck into their room and tried to figure out how to operate this machine. There were a good number of small records that I found quite easily. Sorting through them, I eventually settled on “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” sung by Nancy Sinatra.
It was a real mystery to me how to operate the player. After a careful study of the mechanics, I concluded that the record went on the turntable but I didn’t know what to do with the hole in it that was much larger than the thin metal rod in the center of the turntable.
I was unsuccessful in solving this problem. After some trial and error (mostly error), I managed to have the needle fall on the outer edge of the now-spinning record by manually guiding the arm.
The song was great. The beat was really cool, but the sound was quite warbly. Nancy used words I hadn’t heard before, like “a-messin’,” “a-changin’,” and “a-walkin’.” This captured my imagination and I played the record over and over again. I then turned off the machine, slipped the record back into its paper sleeve, and returned it to the place where I had found it.
I don’t recall what happened next. It is quite likely that one or both of my sisters asked about the scratches and pops. (Maybe I wanted to completely erase this memory because of the unpleasant consequences?)
I have learned that music holds great power.
When a song is played it can instantly take us back to another time and place – complete with memories and emotions associated with it.
What song from your past would you like to play and what emotions would be stirred?
What about God? Do these three words evoke specific memories and emotions? Are they all positive?
I believe that God was, is, and will be with us, even if we have had experiences that cause us to doubt — that may give rise to emotions that lead us to believe that this has not been the case.
Can we then sing a new song?
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.