Sing to the Lord? How do we proceed?

taped_mouth_questionEver since lockdown began, I’ve longed to back together in-person for church, and last Sunday we were finally able to attend service at a local Anglican church where the vicar is a dear friend. We knew to expect it to be different.  It was, but, it was so good to be back worshipping as the church – praying together, confession,  hearing the Word expounded on…and yes, music.

As a pastor and musician, my role over the past few decades has been to aid the congregation in sung worship to God.  Current restrictions here in London say we should not sing aloud or shout for joy to avoid spreading coronavirus*

As one who is convinced that God not only desires our sung worship, but has given us imperative commands to do so, I want to continue to help the church not neglect music in our gatherings, but participate as fully as possible to the allowed degree – perhaps even moving us out of our cultural inhibitions and comforts.

I had been mulling these things over and was delighted at how the church handled it.

Our vicar friend did such a marvelous job joyfully and enthusiastically exhorting us to join in in the following ways:

  1. As the pre-recorded band and lyrics played on the screen we were encouraged tohum hum loudly and to think deeply about the words we were expressing.
    • As the Scripture says, “Sing and make music in your heartsEph 5:19. In this window of time, perhaps we need to relearn making music in our hearts and not just with our lips; that our worship needs to begin with the posture of our hearts.
  2. We were reminded and encouraged to use our bodies in worship.
    • The Psalms include other imperative commands to clap, dance and raise hands.
      • Why not applaud our God after a song filled truths of who He is and what He has done on our behalf? (Ps. 47:1)
      • We can raise our hands in devotion, acclimation and surrender.

raisehandsPsalm 141:2 includes these words “may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.”
We know that the only fully pleasing sacrifice to God is the atonement of Christ in our behalf, yet David at a time whether out of location or unavailability had no sacrifice to present to God other than hands lifted to God.  Our singing may be temporarily “on hold”, but like David, with hearts of worship we can raise our hands to the Lord.

We, as the congregation, did take hold of these and worshipped on Sunday.

Humming along, hands lifted, moving to the beat of songs that celebrate our Saviour.

So church, press on in worship – don’t jettison music just because there are temporary restrictions.  Be creative and look for what you can do – don’t simply focus on what you are being asked not to.

And pray that the Lord would speed the time that we can raise our voices loudly again in praise of His glorious grace.

amen

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*Nevermind that you can go unmasked into a pub for a football game where many people are cheering and shouting aloud for their team.

† I have intentionally chosen not get into the arguments for this as I want to extend grace to those who differ on this non-salvific issue.

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