Aug. 25, 2016
Dear Hyde Park Family,
Feel free to hum along:
- Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
- Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.
You don’t need a degree in musicology to be familiar with one of the most famous songs in television history. When composer Gary Portnoy first penned the words of the theme song to “Cheers,” he had no idea that eleven seasons later, the song would rise to the same level of popularity as the show itself. Now, whenever that song is played, we are immediately transported back to the Eighties, to that small, dark tavern in Boston, catching up on Sam, Diane, Rebecca, Norm, Cliff, Carla, and the whole gang.
In some ways, the song’s appeal even transcended the show itself. When Portnoy started a website dedicated to the song, he was overwhelmed by fan responses. “From the moment I put up that website,” Portnoy says, “I’ve gotten a nonstop flow of emails from people. From kids who weren’t born [when the show started], telling me they close their bars in their towns with it. People who tell me it got them through their chemotherapy, it helped them get through apartheid…every age imaginable, every country imaginable, every story imaginable.” 
What makes the song so powerful, even 34 years later? Portnoy believes it touches on a deeply shared aspect of the human experience. “I think there’s a universality to it,” he says. “I think the first part of the song really connects with people’s angst, and then the chorus says, ‘There’s hope. There’s help.’ There’s some warmth, some connectivity, some hope that there’s a place where things are a little better.”
Portnoy is right. And his words are as descriptive of the longing for community as they are in explaining the popularity of a television theme song. In a time when we feel more disconnected and isolated from one another, when our lives are adrift and tossed about by life’s turmoil, wouldn’t it be nice if we all had some place to go where “everybody knew our name”?
And wouldn’t it be nice if that place were at church?
That’s the premise for this Sunday’s worship service, as we continue our “Life With” series with a sermon titled, “Life Together.” It is an emphasis on being in a small group, which is the most effective way for people at this church to experience intimacy, spiritual community, and belonging in such a large congregation as this one.
If you are not part of a small group, and even if you have general reservations about getting involved in one for the first time, you are invited to an event on Wednesday, September 7 called “Group Connect Night” at 6:30 p.m. in the first floor of the Magnolia Building. It will be the easiest, least threatening, most comfortable way for you to connect with others who are looking to be part of a group, based on scheduling availability. To learn more and to RSVP for the event, visit here.
Exactly two hundred years before Gary Portnoy’s Cheers theme song, a different kind of song was written, but with a very similar message. John Fawcett’s hymn “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” offers the same kind of promise of life that can only be found in Christian community:
- Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
- Before our Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.
- We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear,
and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
- When we are called to part, it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.
If you are seeking real life and real connection with others, there’s a place for you that’s even better than a tavern or a television show. There’s a small group community here at Hyde Park that is waiting for you, with your name on it. And in the words of Gary Portnoy, “There’s hope. There’s help. There’s some warmth, some connectivity, some hope that there’s a place where things are a little better.”
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist