Singing, COVID-19, and Church…

So, some stream of consciousness thoughts that have been percolating for some time now.

hedley lamarr

 

As the great theologian Hedley Lamarr once said:

“My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening thru a cosmic vapor of invention.”

 

I’ve been thinking, almost constantly now for several weeks, about the implications of COVID on our church and the church as a whole’s re-assembling…and about the numerous reports and stories regarding how singing can, did, does, and could be a significant factor in transmission of airborne germs that could carry the virus.

I don’t want to think about an assembly WITHOUT SINGING. The thought of that even being an option on the table saddens me deeply. If we can’t sing together, then it’s hard to think that it’s right to come back together quite yet.
[You can read an earlier post I shared last week about the wisdom in choosing not to assemble together quite yet from a perspective of preventing risk as opposed to creating risk…]

Yes, there are ways we can sing with masks on, tools, technology, things we can use to help us still worship in song even if we can’t sing full-heartedly and spirit-filled without masks.

As I was sharing with my bro Nathan Tillotson a little while ago, one of the take aways I hope to see as a result of this quarantine is that the church more fully embraces the communal and spiritually formative nature of congregational singing.

Each week, what I miss the most in our season of live streamed worship, is singing with my church family. For some time now, the church has seen in its present pendulum swing with regard to worship music, a leaning toward a return to more congregation-friendly, participation-initiating, more hymnic style songs (i.e., Getty/Townend – Sovereign Grace – Bob Kauflin – Indellible Grace – Kevin Twit – Audrey Asaad and others writing them and helping to lead the church in such a direction!).

But as the church processes just how much it has missed being together, I hope and pray that it will recapture and appreciate the incredible power and witness of congregational song again…it’s long overdue.

 

Technology, Millennials, and Church…

From time to time, I hear conversations that go like this:

“Ya know, people just don’t go to church like they used to…I remember when I was a kid, we were there every time the doors were open…”

Eventually, those conversations get to topics like social media, the internet, iPhones, technology…you know how it goes. At that moment, I will sometimes offer a question of my own, something to the effect of:

“Do you have a phone or computer and if so, how often do you check in with your friends, kids, grandkids, neighbors, etc. through that technology?” And often, the response is one like “I don’t do that stuff,” or “why would I do that” or “why do I need that…”

I know that technology, the internet, social media, smartphones and the like all have their perils and pitfalls. The least of which is how they have impaired human communication in a significant way. Just watch this video if you don’t believe me.

But I hear a recurring refrain about this generational gap that exists between millennials and boomers…I hear lots of boomers and others older than that say they wonder why they’re disconnected with younger generations and they don’t understand why they don’t go to church or participate in worship like “they did…”

And it makes me wonder…how can we help those folks, often so resistant to new things, change, and especially technology and social media, bridge that gap with the good side of all that this technological age has provided for us…I think the more we close that gap using some of the wonderful resources out there (that aren’t as hard as the media wants us to think they are), the more we’ll see relationships (which are STILL the most important thing) blossom and bloom where once they might have been prohibited by technology (on both sides of the gap, mind you).

Just fodder for thought. Not a full-blown rant, but something I think about almost daily.

Law of Love…Gospel of Peace

Here’s another piece I wrote last year (or year before?) on a lyric that oft gets “sung over” without allowing the power to sink in. Think about it when you sing “O Holy Night” this year!

“Law of Love and Gospel of Peace”

Last Christmas, I wrote this post amidst a sea of unrest, politically and otherwise.  In light of recent tragic events, especially in Orlando, I’m reposting it here today.

There has been a lot of swirling conversation going on around me, both physically and virtually, about what has gone on in the world around us these last few weeks…Syria, San Bernardino, Jerry Falwell…and on and on.  It was so much that today, I’d had enough and I needed a moment to just sit, be, listen and be quiet…in the quiet, I was overcome by the lyrics of one of the world’s most beloved Christmas Carols…and I had to write a bit about it.  I’ll come back to the other verses and the backstory of this wonderful Adolphe Adam carol, Cantique de Noel, on another day.

[And I will return to my series of posts on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” later this week.  But for a moment today, amidst the hatred, vitriolic speech, harsh judgment and language found in my Facebook feed and in other social and news media, I paused today just to breathe in and claim the lyrics of a Christmas Carol that so many love…but I’m afraid to have sung too glibly over the years.]

The third verse of “Oh Holy Night” speaks of a world in which those who claim to follow Jesus are living out he calls all of his followers to in his subversive Gospel.

That Gospel is deeply rooted in Love of God and Love of Others…and so many claim the first part of that Call…the part about loving God.  But the back half…well, I’m afraid some have given Christ a bad name in how we’ve lived that out in recent days, weeks and months…that love of “others” is not one we can or should place provisions or privileges on…it’s unconditional love for all of our brothers and sisters…Cantique-002

 

“Truly He taught us
to love one another;
His law is Love
and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break,
for the slave is our brother,
And in his name
all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy
in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise
his Holy name!”

 

Come, Lord Jesus!