Last night, along with the parents of 400 other students, we attended the middle school Choral Concert–not because we have a child who sings in a chorus, but because my 6th grade son was picked to accompany the chorales on some sort of percussive gourd thing.
For one song.
The second to last song no less.
Earlier in the day, my 8th grade daughter told me she wanted to go because she had listened to her friends practice. She had been surprised by how many songs were explicitly Christian:
- Oh When the Saints
- Oh Happy Day
- Siyayamba (We are Walking in the Light of God)
As she put it, “I thought you’re not supposed to do anything that has to do with God in school.”
She asked me if I knew The Greatest Love of All and I belted:
I believe that children are the future,Teach them well and let them lead the way.Show them all the beauty they possess inside…
Wailing and warbling in full out Whitney Houston wannabe mode was not impressive, let me say.
But seizing the teachable moment, I asked what she thought of it.
“I don’t know. . . Don’t you think it’s a little weird that loving yourself is the greatest love of all? Isn’t loving God the greatest commandment?”
Yes!!! I thought to myself. “And what’s the 2nd greatest commandment?”
“Loving your neighbor as yourself?”
Whew. She’s got the basics.
She became impatient when I pursued the conversation, “Why does everything we talk about end up having to be about all this deep stuff? Can’t we just sing more of the Jesus songs and forget about it?”
So we sang Siyahambe the rest of the way to the grocery store.
As I sat in the dark and listened to all 400 McCall chorus students sing The Greatest Love of All, I was struck again by how it resonates with our culture. We’re obsessed with self-esteem, with being all we can be, with our own self-actualization.
But the song’s story is just too small.
Now I want my kids to have as good a self-concept as any other kid. But there’s a fine line between healthy self-love and noxious self-absorption. Yes we should raise strong kids, true to themselves, who know that they’re fearfully and wonderfully made and unconditionally and deeply loved. But learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all?
I don’t think so.
IMHO, the truest expression of love exists between beings. Love generates love. Sitting alone, in no one’s shadow, full of my own dignity doesn’t sound like love. It sounds like loneliness.
Oh Happy Day recognizes that dynamic. We feel happy because we’re in relationship. Jesus washed our sins away. Not only that, but he also stays in relationship:
He taught me how (oh, He taught me how)To wash (to wash, to wash)Fight and pray (to fight and pray)Fight and prayAnd he taught me how to live rejoicingyes, He did (and live rejoicing)Oh yeah, every, every day (every, every day)(oh yeah) Every day!
Now that’s good news I can sing about.
This was first posted on What She Said