A few months ago, our music director at First UMC of West Point wrote in her weekly newsletter piece a statement that comes to mind frequently:
She and the psalmist have a lot in common. Many, perhaps most, of Scripture's beloved songs emerged from frightening experiences. To sing through fear takes effort and intention. To sing is to resist the silence fear tries to impose on us. To sing is not the easy choice, but it eases us into God's presence.
During Advent, when Mary's Magnificat appears in the lectionary, I love to preach a sermon with some variation of the title, "Don't Tell Me You Can't Sing." It's dangerous to tell me that you "can't sing," because I'll quickly tell you that you can! The point is that everyone has a voice to offer a song to God, and there are many ways to sing.
Play a drum.
Hum a tune.
Read the words of a hymn slowly and meditatively.
Find a quiet, secluded place, even if it's in the shower or as you're driving, and sing where only God can hear you.
Unfortunately, many of us associate singing with performance. Some of us think that only those with a certain "gift" can sing. We hold back because we're afraid of hitting a wrong note or because it's hard to follow along with the music. We'd rather listen with our ears and eyes than join with our voices.
When we sing before God and with one another, there is no "right" or "wrong." When we sing to God with abandon, we enter into a sacred kind of prayer. I often find myself singing familiar hymns and worship songs when I don't know how to pray for certain needs. Song can be a prayer language that ushers us into God's presence.
Barbara Brown Taylor wrote an article for The Christian Century in 2011 about a point I'd never noticed: before his betray and arrest in the garden, Jesus sang.
He sang through the fear.
He sang as a prayer.
He sang with his friends.
As Holy Week nears, let us listen not only to the words of Jesus but also for his mysterious song. If he could sing, so can we. Let's join our voices with that song with all the different ways that we can sing.
all good things to each of you,