Each month on Baylor Family News, a Baylor University chaplain will share thoughts on a timely aspect of the Baylor journey. In this month’s Chaplain’s Corner, Dr. Ryan Richardson, Associate Chaplain and Director of Worship & Chapel, shares lessons about worship and unity he learned from his infant son, and how those lessons are shared through music in chapel.
Do you remember the music your child would listen to as a newborn? It was sweet and melodic, simple and appropriate for a young baby’s developing brain. The music was interesting to them—sometimes inducing excitement and other times, calm.
When my first son was very young, there were two things he loved: Mickey and Mozart. Mickey makes sense but let me explain Mozart. You see, he enjoyed listening to a CD called Baby Mozart
. Maybe you remember it. If not, imagine the Overture to the Magic Flute
being played by a keyboard-generated flute, a slide whistle, maybe an egg shaker and some tambourines! Yikes!
But, my son loved it! The music brought him joy! Of course, I would prefer something else if given the option. When my wife or I would put our son in the car, we would play the Baby Mozart
CD and he would happily hum along and dance and sway to the music. When my wife and I were in the car without our son, I would quickly switch the radio to something I preferred.
Then, one day... I didn’t.
I dropped my son off at daycare and went to change the CD—but I didn’t. I made a conscious decision not to, and instead listened along to Baby Mozart
. It wasn’t long before I was not only listening to the CD but humming along
with the music—it brought me joy!! It seemed that the music allowed me to imagine my son singing and swaying in the backseat even when he wasn’t with me. It brought me
joy to remember his
I love my son, and leaning into what is familiar to him, changes me.
In the book of Mark, chapter 12, the Gospel-writer tells us the two greatest commandments.
First: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Second: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."
In Baylor University Chapel
this semester, we are worshiping together and learning in community how to love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. We will be practicing the greatest commandment. I hope you will join your hearts with us... you can even participate in chapel online here
Secondly, as our students engage in worship, they will certainly realize that they are gathering with thousands of their new “neighbors”!
These new friends come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and religious experiences. What is familiar worship to one student will be completely unfamiliar to another. What sounds like beautiful expressions of praise and worship to one student might sound like Baby Mozart
to another. Yet all are valid expressions of Christian worship. In Baylor chapel, we will experience wonderful hymns both ancient and modern, we will sing gospel and contemporary Christian, folk and A Capella. We will be led in prayers, readings, and musical expressions that were originally written on the other side of the globe. All of this—all of it
—will be to the glory of God!
Loving one another and leaning into what is familiar to others, changes us.
My hope is that each of us will find ourselves a bit off-balance in worship. I pray that we find God in the unfamiliar and the disequilibrium. I hope that each student will lean into worship that is unique and novel if only out of love for one another. Maybe, if we all love a bit more, sing a bit louder, and put aside our preferences, we might just find a new voice. We might just catch ourselves driving down the road humming a new tune, one we learned from our new neighbor.