The words are... sing out!
October 7, 2016
Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.
By Rev. Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg
I have a remarkable ability to remember song lyrics. Once upon a time, when I was just a little younger, I could go across the whole radio dial and sing every song on it, from 93.1’s country songs to the gospel songs way up on the dial. I know all my parents’ songs, across genres.
Elvis Presley? I’m all shook up, man. Glen Campbell? You bet — Like a Rhinestone Cowboy. The Temps and the Tops? Reach out, I’ll be there.
But in a cruel twist of fate, my singing voice leaves a lot to be desired. When the kids were little, they used to say “Mommy, don’t sing,” as I belted out Van Halen or Van Morrison in the car.
Sometimes, you can have a great voice and no desire to sing. We read about the exile and the time that Israel’s captors said, “Sing us the songs of Zion,” and the psalmist writes, “How could we sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land?”
Psalm 95 reminds us we have a lot to praise God for, a lot to “sing out” about, even in the midst of difficult and trying times. We can sing out about the goodness of our God as creator, who lifted us from the pit of sin and separation from God. We can sing out about this great “King above all gods” who sits on the throne in every season, whose rule is greater than any president or king or queen. We can sing about the joy of being sheep of this God’s pasture, subject to God’s comforting staff and at times, God’s chastening rod. We can sing out in praise or in lament. We can sing out in protest or in prophetic warning. We can sing like Mary about a God who turns power structures upside down. We can sing like Miriam about being delivered from all that would enslave us.
Sing out, church, about what the Lord has done for you! Sing out as you march for justice and for change! Sing out on your way to the voting booth! Sing out and do not be silent, because we serve a risen savior. As the songwriter has said:
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?
By Rev. Daryl Williams
Pastor, St. Paul UMC, Oxon Hill
When I was a little boy I was in a singing group. We knew for sure that we were going to be the next Jackson 5, or at least New Edition. We had a whole 40-minute show with costumes, dance moves, lighting changes, the whole shebang. We figured it would only be a matter of time before we were discovered.
Then the unthinkable happened: we got older.
It wasn’t that we were not cute anymore, and it wasn’t that our show wasn’t good, but we got older. Things changed. Our limbs were getting long, so the dance moves were now a little off. We discovered girls and sports, so the time we used to put into rehearsals was diminished.
But the worst thing that happened to us as we got older is our voices changed. What were once the harmonious tones of little boys soon became the broken, cracking voices of young men. Then one day we looked around and, like so many groups, we broke up and went our separate ways.
It was then that I stopped singing. There just seemed to be no joy, no purpose and no fun in singing after the group was gone. Then, one day, I realized that I didn’t start singing because I wanted to get signed; I started singing because I enjoyed it. I stated singing because the music meant something to me.
So one day, I started singing again. It just sort of happened. It wasn’t a pop song. It wasn’t a catchy ballad. It was “I really Love the Lord.”
Now to be honest, I sounded terrible. When my voice changed, singing was no longer something I did well, but what I was singing now mattered to me more than how I sounded singing it.
“You don’t know what he’s done for me.” It was a reminder of all that the Lord has done to make me who I am both privately and publically.
“He gave me the victory.” There are some things that I know have happened in my life only because the Lord has helped me to overcome struggles, win battles and tear down strongholds.
“I love Him, I love Him, I really love the Lord.” So while I stopped singing for a long time, I now sing loud, proud, and off key, but I am making a joyful noise for all that the Lord means in my life. So if you have a great voice or, like me, can’t carry a tune with a handle, “Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.”
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