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If We Sang Reality in Church

       The music we hear and sing in church.
       This music often reflects the highest ideals of our faith.  From the church's repertoire of music emerge some of the greatest achievements of art and beauty in history.  In these lofty realms of glorious music Handel joyfully sings the songs of Issac Watts, while Graham Kendrick quietly plays the ancient plainsong chant on his guitar.
       In the church's songs of worship the people of God embrace the highest ideals of what the Christ-centered life is to be on earth, as it is in heaven.
       But, in a moment of wild abandoned, I found myself thinking, what if we changed the rules one Sunday. 
What if, instead of proclaiming what we are supposed to think and desire, what if we sang things closer to our muddled reality.  Think about it.  Intead of singing Matt Redman's:

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

What we'd actually sing in glorious self honesty would be more like:

I prayed unto Your name
That you'd keep me  from suffering
I'll put more in the offering
If it's all the same.

       So, let's go step back from the lofty greatness of the great songs of faith we actually sing and explore a different possibility.  What if people sang what they were really thinking and feeling?  Well, that may depend on what your church is like.  For a long established church in a small town, maybe the congregation would look at the pastor and sing something like:

To the choirmaster:
To the tune: This Land is Your Land

This is not your church!
Cause this is our church.
Cause we were born here
Our parents died here
And we'll still be here
When you are not here
Cause this church that you work in
Belongs to me.

Or, if your church has recently gone through the trauma of a major building program, may the first song you'd hear on Sunday morning would be:

From the son of Asaph:
To the tune:  The Church's One Foundation

The church's new foundations
Are made of brick and stone
And though we against it
We had to vote alone
So, now they'll all be sorry!
When we leave their little flock.
And when go and join
The Baptists down the block.

     Or, maybe if the pastor had his own thoughts suddenly translated into a song, the church might find itself hearing something something like:
To the tune: Father, We Adore You

People I implore you
Hoping not to bore you
As I teach you

Elders, I ignore you
Dozing off in your pew
I can't wake you

Ladies, I fear you
Same as all your husbands do
We all know its true

       But, I think most of all, we'd find ourselves coming to the end of every message from God's Word, standing, and listening as the church sang that great song of invitation:
According to the tune: Just As I Am
Just as I am
That's how I'll stay
Unrepentant, every day
And though you preach
to me each week
I just come here
to sleep.
To sleep.

       But, alas, it is not to be.  But, maybe it's for the best.  Reality TV certainly hasn't done much to improve civility and kindness in our society.  That's the idea when someone writes a song and then insists, when people point out the lyrics are hateful or destructive, "Don't blame me.  I'm just reflecting reality."  Think about it.  That's like rowing out to a drowning man and just holding up a mirror.  No, it isn't helping the guy.  But, you could point out, it is reflecting reality.
       The music we sing, the poetry we read, the ideals we aspire to our in highest moments of noble thought - these certainly are not what we are.  At least not all the time.  But, we do continue to reach.  Many years ago, Joe Darion wrote lyrics to go along with a melody by Mitch Leigh.  It was for a musical adaptation of Cervantes' Don Quixote.  It describes the value of striving, of reaching, even of singing what we aspire to be, instead of just what we are:

This is my quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far ...
To fight for the right, without question or pause ...
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause ...

And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

     In worship, we come together to sing about faith that may be deeper then our own, lived out in love that may be more selfless than our own, driven by a devotion that may be more passionate than our own, in the the pursuit of life that may be fuller than our own.  Yet, these will not be the boisterous claims of hypocrites or the empty charades of false lovers that you will hear in our worship this coming Lord's Day.  No, these are the songs of children who have not yet become the grown-ups they will one day become.
       Come, Lord Jesus.

1 comment:

Tom Cash said...

It is interesting that no one has commented on this yet, either here or on Facebook. Could it be that your humor hits too close to home?
My first reaction was a smile, then introspection.
May we sing what we mean; may we mean what we sing. Otherwise our testimony is a lie!