I love music. One of the greatest inventions of the last 25 years has to be the portable electronic music device. When I was young, my dad paid me to mow the yard and every week I went out front with my Walkman and two or three cassette tapes. I would listen to one side and then flip it over. Each week I could push mow the yard and listen to about three full cassettes. Now when I cut the grass, I have thousands of songs to choose from and custom created playlists.
My love of music makes me want to sing. I love to sing, but I cannot do it very well. Keys are hard for me to find and I am a level of tone-deaf. My words often sound more like someone is torturing a cat than trying to soothe the soul.
These thoughts lead me to ponder my time in Church on Sunday morning. Each week we gather to spend time with other believers in fellowship. We also listen to a word explained from the scriptures. And yes, we also sing four or five songs every week. Whenever the music starts, my toes begin to tap, and the song wells up inside of me. My mouth starts out with great joy and enthusiasm; it is only my voice that betrays me. Sometimes while I am singing, I realize how far off key I am, and I stop and try to find the proper notes. In those moments when I quit, I often find a surprising joy.
One of my favorite moments is when I can clearly hear the people behind me singing. Worship leaders are great people, and I enjoy listening to their voices in front of me. I prefer to listen to the sounds behind me. My seat at the front of the auditorium allows me to hear everyone else who raises their voice to God.
There are a couple of reasons I love this time. One, I am blessed every time I hear someone singing about God. The common faith we share in Jesus is what brings us together. Second, I know the stories of many of the people who are singing. Their words come through the filter of life. Some of them are struggling with loss and yet they sing. Others are going through difficult seasons of life, and again they sing. A few of them are turning the page on new chapters in their lives, and they sing. The words of all those wonderful people join together in a chorus of delight. No matter what situation we find ourselves, we have faith in a God that is working in our midst, and so we sing to him.
I love to sing, but there are moments I like to listen. One of the greatest joys in my life is hearing the people of God sing his praises. It connects me with other believers in a powerful way that shows me a picture of heaven. Most of what happens on Sunday morning can be created somewhere else, but when the followers of Jesus join together in song, Church is the best place on earth.