Observations on Life, Faith, Media & Technology

Blest Be The Tie

I have a confession to make: I am a Baptist. 

Holdinghands I’ve spent most of my life around Baptists. Over the years I’ve discovered that in Baptist churches there are a lot of things that are common to almost all of them.  Just like you can walk into a McDonald’s anywhere in the world and order a Big Mac and know it will taste the same, you can go to most Baptist churches and find a lot of the same things on the “menu,” if you catch my drift. Some of these things that are the same are good.  Some of them are not so good.

Almost all Baptist churches have regular “business meetings.”  If your church has a congregational form of government, I suspect they have something similar to the church business meeting.  These are regularly scheduled gatherings where the “business of the church” is discussed.  And discussed.  And discussed.  And then that business is voted on, usually in the form of a “motion.” Baptist Churches use “Roberts Rules of Order” to guide them in how to conduct these meetings. (As a child I used to wonder who this Roberts guy was and why was he causing so much trouble in my church?)

Going to church business meetings was great entertainment for me when I was a kid.  You got to see adults behaving really, really badly.  Sometimes, if you were really lucky, you’d get to hear them yell at each other.  But most of the time the comments were just condescending or sarcastic and frequently sprinkled with the term “Brother” or “Sister.”(“Brother Moderator, it is obvious that Brother Smith, the chairman of our Grounds Committee, believes that money grows on trees since he wants to spend $50 of the Lord’s money to spray the shrubbery for bugs!”)

At the end of the business meeting, no matter how contentious it had been, no matter how close people came to jumping across the pews and strangling their fellow church members, the people would stand up and hold hands across the aisle and sing this little ditty:

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above

I didn’t have a clue in the world what those words meant when I was a little kid. But I did know what a tie was.  It was that awful contraption that you had to wear around your neck only when you went to church.  I would have to stand still long enough for my dad to tie it and when he was done he tightened it up and my face immediately started turning red and then blue from lack of oxygen.  I could certainly relate to “the tie that binds”!

When I was older I came to understand it was a song about how much we love each other, and how the love we have for each other here is a taste of what it’s going to be like in heaven.

Say what??  We argue, fuss and fight for an hour or more and then declare that’s what heaven is going to be like?  If that’s true, I think I’ll pass! (Thankfully it is not true – I rest in the assurance there will be no business meetings in heaven.)

But you know, now after many years of seeing the best and worst of people at church, I’ve sort of mellowed in my view of business meetings and the people who go to them.

Church business meetings are kind of like life.  We’re not perfect, we sometimes say things we shouldn’t, and sometimes we make complete idiots out of ourselves.  But through it all somehow God still loves us.  And through it all, we really do love each other.  You see, I’ve come to realize the singing of that song wasn’t about how things were, it was a statement of how in our heart of hearts we really wanted them to be.  And how – praise the Lord – it will be in heaven.

So church – and I mean ALL of the church, not just the Baptists – let’s stand up, hold hands across the aisle, and sing together:

“Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love…”

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