We sing a lot at worship. Old hymns, new hymns, liturgy, songs. We do it all. Likely, you have been there when we are all learning something new and it's awkward as hell. Wait...that's sort of every Sunday. But sometimes, oh man...it's just glorious. The stars align, we reach a critical mass, we catch onto the tune, people find harmonies. Mercy. It's just so good. The thing about worship at Humble Walk is...it's pretty tiny most weeks. So, even if you don't fancy yourself a "singer," if you show up...you end of singing. Because even if you are terrified of someone hearing your singing voice--if there are only twenty folks in the space and half of those folks are under 9 years old---you sing because it's up to you to carry the liturgy. Your need to hide gets put aside for the sake of the group--thank God--because who wants to be left out there on their own? Oh, the vulnerability. Empathy overrides whatever those tapes in your head are saying to you about how you can't carry a tune and you do it.
We have been on a singing roll, lately. Less awkward, more cohesion. Maybe it's a new mix of folks. Likely, it's that some of that singing anxiety has been worn down around the edges. I don't know if I could love it more.
Like everyone else I have ever met, I have strong opinions about music...in and out of worship. I'm not actually interested in style or genre (pretty sure Jesus is incarnational). What I want is to be able to hear people singing. If the organ or ensemble or band takes that away or covers it up or does it for us--it pisses me off. I think, "Pipe down, dumb organ....these people have a song to sing." Or, "Nice. You are finally fulfilling your life-long dream of playing in a rock band. In a church. Now, why don't you dial it back so we can actually sing this freakin' song together?"
On Monday, we gathered at Shamrock's Pub for Beer and Hymns. People came out of the woodwork for this event. Justin Rimbo (and a whole group of other musicians) led us in two hours of hymn singing. And when I say singing, I mean sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-in-four-part-harmony singing. During the first verse of the first hymn, I got a bit choked up because it was so loud and joyous. Goose bumps. People sang with reckless abandon and we were all transformed in the process. On the way home, I could feel my black heart beat with a bit more love and grace. It's a holy thing, this communal song.
We will be back for another round of worship this Sunday at Acme Scenic Arts at 4:30, led by the lovely and delightful Heatherlyn. We will be back for another round of Beer and Hymns at Shamrock's on Monday, July 9. Come early to get a seat.