Let’s sing! Ever since I arrived at Our Savior’s, I’ve exclaimed this as we prepare to praise God with song. I wonder why I make this invitation; I’ve not used it anywhere else I’ve served. I wonder how this invitation helps us encounter the grace of God through our singing. I wonder why God chooses song to reach out to us, to speak to us where we are and as we are through song. I wonder what your favorite song is, and how it speaks to you.
When I was six years old, my family attended a Missouri Synod congregation. We joined just as Sunday school kids were practicing for their annual Christmas program. I remember peeking into the sanctuary as the kids were putting on their costumes for their one and only dress rehearsal. The Sunday School superintendent saw me standing there and invited me to join the group. It’ll be great, she said. I believed her; it looked like fun. As I walked slowly down the aisle, the other kids were lining up to practice their songs. Because I’ve never been tall, I was lined up in the front row. Looking around, I saw that I was standing between Mary and Joseph, and the baby doll pretending to be Jesus was right in front of me. because there wasn’t room anywhere else. (It’s biblical, right?!) I became nervous about singing, not because I wouldn’t know the words, but because the microphone was situated right in front of me. As it turns out, that wasn’t a big deal; you couldn’t hear my voice during the practice.
It turns out that the microphone wasn’t on; it was, though, during the program.
And, apparently, I don’t know all the words to every Sunday School Christmas song.
In the middle of the actual program, it was announced that we would sing, Go Tell It on the Mountain, only I thought I heard the song title to be, Goat’s Milk on the Mountain. (Don’t ask me why; I’m still not sure of how I came to that translation.) As we began to sing, I wondered why the other kids were singing the wrong words, and I certainly was unsure of why the congregation broke out into laughter as my voice was amplified throughout the sanctuary. It didn’t matter to me, though; I sang loud and proud all the way to the end of the song. Later, some dear soul who joined the church 40 years before I was born taught me the words.
Now, I’m not meaning to invite you to purposely sing the wrong words to your favorite song in Church, though if you do, it doesn’t matter. And if you are not wanting to sing because you are afraid that the noise from your mouth will shatter the windows and do damage to the ears of those around you, don’t hold back. We sometimes worry so much about our singing that we lose sight of why we sing. We worry, and in our worry, we lose sight of the God about whom we sing. We lose sight of the God to whom we sing. We lose sight of the power of song to heal, to restore joy, to give us a beat to which to walk when we lose our way. We lose sight. We lose our voice. We lose our nerve, our courage, our hope.
When I was young, I got to attend a concert by Amy Grant, who, at the time, was one of the best known Christian singer/songwriters in the business. The group I was with had seats in the fourth row, center; we could see Amy eye to eye. In the middle of her concert, she said something that has stuck with me, no matter the season in my life. There’s no use singin’ unless we have somethin’ good to sing about. And we do, we have something amazing about which to sing. The love of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the power of the Spirit is at the center, at work in our lives, whether we know it or not. So, let’s sing: we are held in hands more steady than our own!
Pastor Paul Lutter