445 S. Mary Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086 | 408 736-3120 | Questions? email becky@crosswalkchurch.com

Singing: Why We Do It

I like Sundays at Crosswalk!Last week you welcomed my wife Bethany - and she truly felt your love and care. Thank you so very much. That is not always the case at churches we visit.
I like Sundays. Always have.For years I've tried to help people see the importance of it in their weekly rhythm.For years I've worked with church staff to plan and think through Sunday morning services.
The church I grew up in had a 90 minute Sunday morning service - and - for as much as 66% of the service we sang. There were no musical instruments - just a song presenter with a tuning fork - but we sang and we sang well.
Got me thinking about Crosswalk and our Sundays.Long before the Senior Pastor (a.k.a. me) gets an opportunity to address the Sunday congregation, it’s the Worship Pastor (a.k.a. Dave) who gets the whole thing started.From anywhere between 20-25 minutes Dave leads the congregation - he shapes the service.And Dave (unlike me) invites the congregants (a.k.a. you guys!) to join in doing what he is doing. Dave invites you to not stay silent but sing along with him. Dave isn't doing a solo number but inviting people to form a choir and sing together.
And every Sunday there are three different groups of people in our congregation:#1 Those who love to sing.#2 Those who don’t love to sing. #3 Those who can’t sing – which often includes people from group #1
So why do we sing and what happens when we do?
Singing has been a part of Christian worship since the 2nd century AD. The first reference is by Ignatius of Antioch and then a fuller confirmed writing by Tertullian in the early 3rd century. His Carthaginian agape involved singing publicly to God, and he writes “putting to test how each has drunk!”  (Those early communion services sound interesting!)
The earliest clearly Christian song/chant was what is termed the Trisagion - Greek for “thrice holy”. It is taken from the song of the heavenly creatures in Isaiah 6:3“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts the whole earth is full of his glory.”
It was simple, it was plain and it was repetitive!Yes, singing the chorus many times over was not invented by the modern worship leader!
BUT maybe singing isn’t really the point.
The point of us coming together and joining in song together is about being part of a shared experience. The singing causes the individualism that many of us operate with during the week - being by ourselves or working each day on my tasks, my duties, my customers, my responsibilities, my decisions, being with my spouse, my kids, my family - to be challenged.When we sing together every Sunday and sing songs with lyrics and in a music style that are not what we hear during the week, we are declaring that there is another way to live.Sunday morning worship is not 'my time to worship', it is OUR time to worship.
But we do need to make sure that the experience we are sharing is the right sort of experience. And for that, what we sing is important.Our songs are the paths our worship journeys along. They are the letters that form our sentences. They are the oxygen we collectively breathe in our worship experience.
In a world where there is greed and abuse and anger and injustice a group of people in a church sanctuary in the middle of Silicon Valley get together and sing the word 'holy'.We sing about someone who is crowned with glory and honor.We put on our lips words about a grand narrative. Light in darkness. Hope in despair. We sing about One who is undefiled, unblemished, perfect.We sing about resurrection when there's so much death.We put on our lips words and truths that we don't normally say.
We sing hymns and songs as maps. Maps that take us back to join the history we are a part of. Maps that point us the right way forward.
It’s not really about the music.It’s not about whether it is hymns or worship songs.It’s not about the volume or the key it's played in.It’s not about whether it is pentatonic scale or the heptatonic scale.Church music is bigger than all that.
When we sing we are reminding ourselves that there is more. There is God.
God is the object and the subject of our worship.
And boy do we need to sing every week and remind ourselves of that truth. Too often we become the center of our universe.Every Sunday through the words we put on our lips chosen for us by our Worship Pastor and joining together voluntarily with others around us - through singing we reorient ourselves back to the reality that God is the center.
And only after we do that. Only after we get our hearts and minds reoriented can we allow God's Word to be spoken to bring the transformation and the life that comes through Christ who is the Word.
Sundays?Best day of the week - hands down(or hands up as we sing certain songs!)
Gilbert

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