GC2016 — Sing Out, Out of Sync

Do United Methodists listen to the words they sing in worship?  We have some incredible hymns, sacred songs, praise songs, and spirituals.  They paint a picture of true paradise.  Songs of love, songs of hope, songs of kindness and mercy.  Hymns of adoration and praise.  Hymns of reconciliation and unity.  Amazing inspirational, educational, visionary and healing messages.  If we would simply try to live our hymns, we would be a much better church.

Yet, what comes out of our mouths in praise seem to depart our hearts.  Few if any “will know we are Christians by our love.”  The beauty of our singing gives way to the ugliness of our actions.  We are given to a confusing hypocrisy as our active engagement with one another belies our true sentiments.  We are not living what we are singing.  We are truly out of sync.

The music at General Conference indeed has charms to soothe the savage breast, but only for a time.  Perhaps we should be required to sing our legislation and our plenary floor speeches?  “I rise to move interpretive dance!”  Singing and dancing, we model something lovely and wonderful.  In worship and praise, we are the people of God at our very best.  Our witness in music is consistent and unified.  We raises our voices as one, seemingly, only when we sing.  Is there a lesson here?

Music is transformative.  It is wonderful to see the convention center rock, sway, boogie, and shimmy to a rousing contemporary rendition of “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” or “Great is the Lord.”  It is in our music that we experience joy.  It is through our singing that we move out of our heads into our hearts and souls.  It is when the building buzzes with the bass beat and soaring chords that we are a harmonious and unified body.  I do not understand how we can give ourselves to such abandonment to Spirit and to give voice to such gracious words, then continue in our division and contention when the music fades.

3 replies

  1. I agree whole heartedly! I considered using “They’ll Know We are Chriatians By Our Love” recently but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. We are going to have a hymn-sing Sunday in June. May I quote from this in the bulletin (with attribution, of course)? Take care, Dan.

  2. Perhaps Bishop Palmer has the reason – “our relationships are so superficial that we won’t even risk something we might later have to apologize for.” I realize he was quoting another gentleman when he made this statement during the episcopal address. We can extrapolate, can we not, that living superficially causes many of us to focus solely on the issues that apply directly to our chosen lifestyles, concerns, issues (you get my drift). We then are able to ignore the plight of so many – send money for someone else to go rather than take that burden on my own self. We gossip, we ignore our neighbor, we don’t learn what true love really is. For those of us in the US, at any rate, Hollywood defines today’s take on “love.” It shows us relationships (I know it can be argued whether Hollywood merely reflects current culture or directs it) that are superficial, arrogant, and mean-spirited. The most popular shows Big Brother, Survivor, etc.) show people who will lie, cheat, steal, and turn on others in order to gain. And we, who claim to follow Christ, follow along like willing sheep.

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