In a conference phone call in which I participated on March 16 with our bridge priest Jo Barrett and others who are involved in planning for worship services at St. Paul’s, the decision was made to send out the Sunday worship bulletin, even though temporarily we are not meeting together in the church building. This is a new and challenging situation for all of us. How do we continue to perform the vital task of sharing our Christian faith with one another and maintaining our own spiritual health? As worship leaders at St. Paul’s, we pray that these worship outlines/guidelines may help keep you close to God, strengthen the bonds of love within our family at St. Paul’s, while we continue to perform acts of service and charity to the community and the world that still surround us.
Along with this plan to share the weekly bulletin, I hope to keep up my practice of sharing Music Notes with you each week. Instead of writing about a particular hymn this week, I want to write some words of encouragement about singing our faith. My inspiration comes largely from a devotion entitled “Preaching to the choir” which I read this morning. This meditation was based on the first verse of Psalm 95, which the choir chanted last Sunday, “O come, let us sing to the Lord.”
Immediately I see red flags! To begin with, some of us never sing. Secondly, how can we sing to the Lord if we are not physically present with others who are singing along with us? Besides, how can we sing while we are faced with all this anxiety, uncertainty, and life-threatening pandemic? As we read in Psalm 137, the Bible’s well-known hymn of lament, “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
As the saying goes, “But wait, there’s more!” My answer to the Psalm 137 question comes from my early years when I memorized this Bible passage, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2, King James Version).
If you say you can’t sing, I say you are wrong. If God is our song and we are all made in God’s likeness, then you also are a song. Yes, I know that some of you can’t carry a tune. Often when I look out at our worshiping congregation, I see some closed mouths while others are singing. And I know that there are times when we can’t or just don’t want to sing. I get it. Forgive me if I sound judgmental or accusatory. But God not only asks us to sing, God desires that we sing. When offered with a sincere heart, our songs bring delight to God, yes, even those unmusical sounds that some of us make when we try to croak out the melody.
I could go on and on, and I already have. But I must add a little more. Whether hymns of praise or hymns of lament, we need to keep on singing. At least during this time of world-wide crisis, I can’t hear your voice or see your mouth move. But if you don’t sing, start now. If you do sing, sing even more. I need your songs, you need your songs, we all need your songs, and God yearns for our songs. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. It’s a fact! The coronavirus or all the combined forces of evil in the world can never ever change that. So God’s love and mercy toward us and the celebration of our shared faith in Jesus continue uninterrupted. “O come, let us sing to the Lord.”