How Shall we Sing the Lords Song?
In 2016 in Australia too many believe this is an easy question to answer, however many of the easy answers are wrong. Or at least, wide of the mark.
Let’s expand the question a bit and try and answer this eternal question, ‘How Shall We Sing the Lord’s Song?’
- Father Welcomes (all his children) – God includes everyone. Yes, ‘Father’ is an exclusive image of God, but the song starts from the Waiting Father – Prodigal Son story. A baptism song first (for our daughter, Kristin) but widely used in many events, including funerals.
- 'May the Feet of God Walk with You' relates God’s action to our body; our feet, hands, eyes ears, smile and breath.
Both are very singable & it’s always a pleasure for me to hear them sung by any group.
God makes all this physical stuff & is pleased to stay. Just one of the things that God-become-human-in-Jesus teaches us.
I think it was an excellent choice to name the first songbook in what became a series ‘All Together Now’. We are made to live as a community.
No-one possesses all that's needed for the continuation of humanity. Neither a male nor a female can do it, not a songwriter or a builder, a teacher or gardener, a cook or a pilot. We depend on each other, rely on each other.
The Christian God sets a precedent by being a community, 3 persons yet one. Community music, many voices together, provides an ongoing soundscape of our togetherness.
GOD IS NEAR, HERE – NOT SOMEWHERE ELSE
We don’t need to be lifted into God’s presence by religious activities. This venture is doomed to fail. We are incapable of reaching God. And yet, time & again, this is the underlying or the clearly stated aim of so-called ‘worship’ songs.
"God has come to us — in this place, in this mess, in this physical world."
God has become physical:
- Skin and bone, blood and hair.
- With a body largely composed of water.
- A heart and a head, a digestive system,
- A brain, eyes, ears, tongue, teeth, fingers and toes
If we are to have songs that bring us close to God, they need to capture our imagination with this strangely physical divine person. We don’t need songs to transport us to some imaginary spiritual world.
The spiritual world is here! What we need are repaired, informed senses that are capable of experiencing the presence of God in Jesus and, as a result of his coming, to see God in all created things.
Examples of the little ways to see god in everyday life;
- To see a eucalyptus leaf, and be intrigued by its shape, its shading, its marking. And to think: this was made through Jesus, the eternal word.
- Or to see or feel the whiskers of a cat, to notice how sensitive they are to touch. And to think: this was made through Jesus too
- To open the compost bin and see a big fat slug on the moist rim. This was made by God’s imagination, through Jesus.
A few of my favourite verses...
- Through him all things were made (John 1:3)
- God created the universe by his Son. (Heb 1:2)
- Everything was created by him. (Col 1:16)
- (CEV) Now at last God sent his Son to bring his message to us.
BREAKING OLD RULES
An unconventional, unfashionable message needs to find ways to tell its story. Trying too hard to fit in with surrounding styles will blunt the message. Jesus was a great teacher.
Time & again he wanted to make sure that people didn’t misunderstand him. So, when a crippled man was brought to him on the Sabbath, he didn’t tell him that he’d drop by tomorrow, like a proper doctor. He did the job right then. He was doing something new. He wanted to upset the keepers of the old rules. Trust me, says Jesus, not the Sabbath rules.
QUESTIONS AND DOUBTS ARE OK
A relationship is a living thing. It’s not fixed in concrete. It’s OKAY to express doubts, to ask questions. You are part of the family. God says so, and family members can ask as many questions as they like.
The Psalms and OT are full of questions. They also have anger and disappointment, despair & vengefulness. In fact, they express the whole range of human emotion.
Why not – they’re showing us how to sing the Lord’s song in the 21st century!
Please let me share with you my music that I have worked on for over four decades, filled with thoughts of love and faith, these songs are ones to be sung together!