Yesterday it happened again. The first song of our worship time on Sunday I did not know. Honestly, I had not even heard it on Christian radio. My very first exposure to this song was in our time of worship. The leaders were asking me to sing a song I did know in my praise of God.
For many people, their reaction to this event would be less than favorable. There would be anger at the song or sadness over the newness of the situation. For me, moments like this are an opportunity for growth.
1. It forces me to focus on the lyrics. When you know a song by heart, it is easy to sing the songs from memory rather than focus on the content. As you sing a new song, you are given a chance to listen closely to the lyrics because of their unfamiliarity. Yesterday I heard in a fresh way that God “frees every captive and breaks every chain.”
2. It gives me a new way to express my praise. I believe the praise of our God cannot be captured with one image or phrase. It is not limited to even 10-20 songs that resonate with me. His praise is limitless. I love thinking about our God in new ways or from new perspectives. One of the songs the band is introducing is called Reckless Love. It has been around for a few months and has been greeted with some resistance to the phrasing. Is God reckless? Well, no … and yes. As the song says, only the reckless love of God would leave the 99 sheep to seek after the lost one. I love the image of God who cares about every individual, especially those who are lost.
3. I learn to appreciate the old songs. Another song from the worship set was an updated version of “It is Well with My Soul.” It amazes me that the original song was written in 1876 and it still touches lives today. When I hear new songs, I usually think about how long they will last. Honestly, most of the songs we sing today will not last for over a hundred years. Some of the hymn writers penned hundreds of songs to have only one that lasted. Those songs that endure from generation to generation are extraordinary.
4. It reminds me what it is like to be new to the Church. Every week someone new walks into our Church to worship with us. Some of them have never heard a worship song in their life outside of a funeral. They have no idea about lyrics or tempo or song styles. Each new song gives me a chance to stand in their shoes to feel what is new and unfamiliar. We are all just pilgrims on a journey with God and moments like these help me identify with people who are just joining the journey.
I will be honest; I love singing my favorites. I love taking a line and belting it out with all my heart. But I am learning to enjoy new songs as well. They push me and force me to see our worship as something bigger than just my preferences. Our worship is an opportunity to connect with one another as we sing our heartfelt praises to God. And so, I sing no matter what song is chosen for the group.