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.