Ascension Lutheran Church – Citrus Heights, CA – Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA

Hymn of the Week for January 29, 2023 – Seek First

They say we need money and power
They say there’s no God up above
Don’t they know our Friend in high places
Nothing can be stronger than love

In the gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7 make up what is more commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount. The first part of Matthew 6 talks about prayer and practicing our faith, all revolving around Jesus teaching his followers to pray what we know today as the Lord’s Prayer.  The last part of this chapter talks about what we really should be concerned about in our faith walk and what we should seek first.

Ascension’s gathering hymn for Sunday, January 29, is Seek First, written by Amy Grant and Wes King and recorded by Susan Ashton on the 1993 album “Songs From the Loft”.  Amy writes this about the Loft in the accompanying songbook …

When Gary and I decided to open up the loft of our barn for youth meetings, we had no idea it would have such an impact on our lives. We started the Loft as a weekly gathering for kids between the ages of 13 and 22 for ten weeks during the fall of 1990. The leadership group, dubbed “the Gray Shirts,” talked to the kids about Jesus and we had musical guests come perform a few songs. We didn’t charge a ticket price; we didn’t publicize it at all – we wanted it to be a word-of-mouth experience without any hype, so that only the kids who really wanted to be there would come.

The great thing about having all the kids crammed up into the loft of an old barn is that they didn’t know exactly what to expect. For the first couple of weeks a lot of the girls would show up in new outfits, high heels and their hair all done. The Gray Shirts would be wearing old jeans and our gray Loft tee-shirts. After a couple of weeks the kids began to realize that it didn’t matter what they wore, what they looked like, who their friends were, or what they had done right or wrong – all they needed to do was to show up.

After the first Loft meeting I decided to write a song for the kids at the Loft. The Song was “Hope Set High” …

I’ve got my hope set high
That’s why I came tonight
I need to see the truth
I need to see the light.

It felt so good to have a new song to teach the kids the next week that I decided to write a new song every week. As the weeks went by, the songs we wrote for the Loft became the core of our worship time together. Gary and I decided to record these songs in hopes that other youth groups would be able to use them. The songs are simple. They are tools to help reinforce an idea, to be a reminder of scripture, or a little nugget of truth.

My hope is that other people would be encouraged and motivated by our Loft experience, to come up with their own unique approach to reaching kids. Let what you’ve heard about the Loft be the seed in your heart, imagination and spirit to do your own thing. Take stock of the gifts, talents and facilities in your community and be creative and daring. Be willing to take a risk. I truly believe God will always do something completely amazing when we are willing to serve Him with reckless abandon.

Amy and Gary and Susan and all the guest musicians and leaders of the Loft used that space and their music to advance the kingdom of God.  What they sought, they received back from those whom they served.  You never know what impact you will have on the world when you seek first the kingdom of heaven!