“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together!” ~Psalm 34:3
One of the many blessings I enjoy as a preacher is the introduction of new authors and ideas to me by members of our church. At least a couple of times a week someone will email me a link to an article that has touched them in a particular way or recommend a book they believe I might really enjoy. I love it. These kinds of things work to broaden my own vision and horizons, they usually give me good things to think about (or “borrow” for a sermon or Bible class), and they always give me another glimpse into the heart and soul of the brother or sister doing the recommending.
Recently, I was directed by a fellow Central-ite to the blog of Jennifer Gerhardt, a preacher’s wife who lives in Round Rock. I was linked specifically to a post titled “One Reason You Should Sing Out at Church.” My great love of congregational singing compelled me to click on the link immediately. My passion for deep Christian community compelled me to pass it on to you.
Here’s the link. But don’t click it yet.
Gerhardt describes an outdoor screening of the Wizard of Oz in which her family and the crowd joined together to sing “We’re off to see the wizard…” to illustrate what happens when we all sing together in worship:
“When people, different in color and taste, personality and position, sing together on a Sunday morning, when they sing-speak the same words in the same second, lifting high the name of the same Savior, they agree and affirm and commingle. When I sing and you sing, we’re saying to one another, in small part, ‘I’m with you.’
When we sing together in worship, we belong.”
Gerhardt goes on to observe that approximately 5,400 species of animals sing: humpback whales, dolphins, gibbons, bats, tree frogs, and all the birds. But of all the animals that sing, apparently not one of them lives on the ground. Every single animal that sings live in the trees or in the ocean. Researchers are convinced that the reason lies in the fact that singing requires security. Singing makes an animal’s presence known both to friends and foes. Tree canopies and ocean depths tend to be more secure than the firm surface of the ground. Animals who live in trees or under water feel safe enough to sing.
There’s only one exception in nature to this rule. Humans.
“Most of us don’t sing in front of strangers. We sing with people we love. People who won’t insult us or embarrass us or stare at us or surreptitiously film us and put the footage on youTube. Singing with others is an act of trust.
When we don’t sing, it often springs from an unwillingness to be vulnerable. That’s what excuses like ‘I’m not good at it’ and ‘I don’t feel comfortable’ boil down to.”
The interesting thing is that being vulnerable is the risk one has to take in order to make any kind of connection with anybody. You’re not going to connect with a person or a group if you don’t open yourself up. It just won’t work. It’s ironic, really, that a lot of us won’t sing because we don’t want to stick out and be separated from the group. But playing it safe like this actually works against us: we wind up not connecting, not belonging. If you want to connect, one of the best things you can do is open up your mouth and let it fly with some serious out-loud singing!
Lots of people don’t sing at church. Maybe you don’t. Man, you’re missing out on a whole lot more than you think. Thank you, Jennifer, for reminding us how vital congregational singing is to unity and connection in the Lord’s Body. And thank you, Suzanne, for the link.
You can click it now.