Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Song for the Sabbath Day.

Psalm 92:1-4  NRSV

1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
    to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
    at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

My Bible has titles for each of the psalms.  This one is called “A Song for the Sabbath Day.”     Singing and Sabbath have been much on our minds of late, as we try to figure out what worship will look like when we do start meeting in the sanctuary again.  Because one of the things that looks pretty certain, at least for a while - there will be no singing.  Possibly a soloist or a very small group, but no choir and no congregational singing.  There are just too many examples already of congregations who tried that, using all the best practices to keep themselves safe by social distancing and using masks and disinfecting, but started a new round of infection from Covid19 among those who attended, regardless of their efforts.  

I heard an Episcopalian priest interviewed yesterday who said she didn’t know what worship would feel like if she could not pray by singing.  She went on to say she wasn’t even sure she would be a Christian if she couldn’t sing.  I understand that, sort of.  We do sing our faith.  We sing our praise, we sing our grief, we sing our gratitude, we sing our beliefs.  If we cannot sing together. . . what will that be like?  

One of the things I am enjoying about our online worship is the opportunity to sing as lustily as I like, because I am at home and no one can hear me.  If I miss a note or sing off key or even get the words wrong because I am singing with my eyes closed, it doesn’t matter.  Our singing is led by a quartet with amazing voices,  so I am not really singing alone.  Singing my faith with others is empowering, and it will seem strange if we cannot.   

However - I didn’t learn all those hymns I love so much now until I was in my forties and attending a Disciples congregation.   The congregations I grew up in did not sing during regular Sunday worship.  There was rarely any music at all - only on very special occasions.  I loved those special occasions, but they were few and far between.  That did not mean worship was not worshipful, or that we just sat back and observed.  Worship took effort.  There was a great deal of participation in the worship service through responsive readings, which meant you really had to pay attention to what was going on at any given moment.   

Although we can not know what the future brings, we do know that no matter what, our worship will be a time of praising and glorifying God, whether or not we can sing.  

O Lord our God, we come before you singing your praises, even if we cannot sing.  Even if we must keep silence, the songs of our hearts will glorify you.  Amen.

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