One Sunday in the ancient past I was the associate pastor of a church. I was on the platform next to the senior minister. It was song time and I was blasting away at the song. In the Methodist Church we follow the admonition of John Wesley regarding congregational singing. His words might be helpful for all of you.
“Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor ashamed of its being heard, than when you sang the songs of Satan.” Those songs of Satan were the ones sang in the bars and pubs of London. How did Wesley know where the folks were on Saturday night?
This one should be posted on the choir room door and read every Sunday by the tenors and sopranos, especially those who have started warbling:
“Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.”
“Above all sing spiritually.” Wesley said.
I was on that platform singing lustily, modestly and spiritually. In the real world can you use lustily and modestly in the same paragraph? That is the joy of being a Methodist; we can straddle the Grand Canyon. We believe in A but we also strongly affirm your belief in B. One writer has noted that John Wesley was “spiritually promiscuous.” He believed anything that worked. We are still following in Father Wesley’s footsteps. If it works, we believe it!
I was blaring away on the hymn and the senior minister leaned over to me and said, “Would you please stop singing you are throwing me off key.” I didn’t know the senior minister was a vocal hitchhiker but it appeared he was caught between my modulations and the actual music coming from the church organ. I was also messing him up because I am the designated “syncopater.” If you want a good rhythm fouled up, just call me in. I can throw off a marching band!
I remind all the musical elite that the Bible tells me to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
I try to follow the Bible whenever it suits me. That was a theological snide remark in case you missed it. I have bumped into too many Jesus followers who claim to be graduates of all sorts of Bible study groups. Their matriculation in the group has not created a Christ like transformation of their behavior. This paragraph was brought to you by the part of me that is tired of cleaning up after the poor living habits of some Jesus followers. Remember when I have one figure pointed at you I have three pointing back at me!
I can’t sing melodiously. I sing in the shower and the dogs sit outside the shower howling! We make beautiful shower music. I admire those of you who have the gift of music. I admire musicians because you have rhythm and the wonderful internal clock that allows you to keep the beat. Your gifts have lifted me into the heights of heaven. I love church because of the singing. If we could sing then take the offering and finish the church service off reading the Bible with more singing I would call that a great Sunday. Please notice the purposeful omission of the sermon! One Sunday I’m going to declare a sermon free Sunday! I won’t announce it prior to the service, it will just happen.
I keep plugging away at my singing. I have been elected “first chair” in the monotone section. That section is located near the back door.
The Bible implies that Jesus sang. I wonder if he was a tenor or a baritone. I want to be Christ like in my singing abilities, since I’m not doing so well in other Christ like behavioral goals.
I will not be held accountable for my bad singing. We are held accountable for what we can do and will do for the cause of Christ. I am off the hook for my bad singing but there are other gifts and graces I possess for which I will be held accountable.
What can you do to change your world in the name of Christ?