Like with most things that break me, I never saw it coming.
This time, the words came in the form of a letter. A smattering of broken sentences and life had come undone. My heart shattered, falling like sand through my fingers. Even if I were to gather the remaining pieces, mend them together through tears and time, I would never be the same.
In these moments, when my heart is breaking, sometimes I find it hard to sing. And to my surprise, it is these very slivers of time of heartbreak when it is vitally important to keep singing.
Why do we sing as part of our worship?
If you’ve ever participated in on a Sunday morning with Discovery, you’ve probably discovered the pattern to our services:
I love singing. I love hearing music. I love worshiping God in this form; where lyrics and melody unite. And when I stand in midst of the church and hear the voices rise in praise of God, it’s a picture of eternity in heaven.
Yes, I am a musician. I play for the worship team. I’m practically unrecognizable without a piano attached to my fingers. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I would want more songs!
But the question does come up, especially when I share with others what it means to play for a rock band for a church in Tacoma:
Why do we sing on Sundays?
Music in our world serves many purposes. It enhances a scene in a movie. It serves as a background in our stores or even while we do chores at home. It heals us when we are sad (because sad songs say so much) and moves us to our feet in celebration (and party like it’s 1999).
Music is also a topic of conversation: favorites, dislikes, proof of fandom through a collection of concert tickets. Some people need it to fall asleep at night. Others can’t live without music near their vicinity, headphones permanently attached to their ears.
In sum, Music is more than a way of life. Music provokes our emotions and helps us communicate what we feel, think, and describes the core of who we are.
Even our heartbeats are a song.
What does that have to do with Sundays? Do we have to sing songs?
Unlike the music we consume in our world, this music isn’t primarily for us to feel something about God. We don’t sing just to get our hearts prepared to hear God’s word in a sermon. Although worship music allows the Spirit to move in us, and we sometimes feel something deep when we hear familiar worship songs, I posit that we sing for another reason.
We sing songs because in doing so, we declare the story of the truth of God. When those words are paired with music, the truth is embedded in our hearts – especially the times when we can’t feel it.
Back to my moment with heartbreak:
I kept the letter with me, even bringing it with me the following week to church. I had shoved it deep into my bag, but rediscovered the proof of rejection when I sat down in the green folding chair of our church sanctuary.
Heart rent, I crumpled the letter in my hands. It didn’t stop the unraveling of my life. At that moment, I knew I couldn’t fix it. I didn’t know how, where to begin. As I am wont to do, I wanted to run away. The sobs lodged in my throat, choking me with sorrow.
Despite everything, I heard the congregation around me sing. These words surrounded me, lifted my head to see the One I can cry out to.
And with the words of this song, I remembered that He is still good.
I still couldn’t sing, but everyone around me still could. And whether they knew me or not, the truth of their words, married with a sweet melody, made its way to my soul, mending my broken heart.
Because they were singing God’s story, I was surrounded by the truth of God’s love.
This is what happens when we sing. Yes, we are bringing glory to God in song. And yes, the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts to hear from God as we sing. But I maintain that what I learned that heartbroken Sunday was that when we sing of God’s glory, we also minister to each other.
When we sing, we help each other remember God.
I walked away from that service, the sermon at the edge of memory, but the song remained, resounding in my heart.
And in a broken whisper, I finally sang the words: