I Miss Singing With My Church
On the first Sunday morning of the stay-at-home order, I sat down with my family and turned on my church's livestream of our worship service. My first thought was, “This is kinda nice.”
I didn’t have to wear my church clothes. I didn’t have to wake up and leave early. I was sitting in my favorite chair. We were all together as a family, and I could explain what was going on to my toddler. I didn’t have to talk to a bunch of people. I had my own personal bathroom, and lunch was only a few feet away to top it all off.
“Now I see why some people just stay home and watch all the time.”
That was week one.
Since then, let me tell you, my feelings have changed. Each week that has passed, I have become more and more angsty about watching church online, and I have become more and more homesick for my church family.
It’s not that our online service is done poorly. Our worship team and pastors have done an incredible job of adjusting to the circumstances and connecting with people through a camera each week. I’m grateful for them!
And it’s not that I think we shouldn’t be doing church online. I think it’s clear this is the right thing to do right now, and online worship is simply the best alternative we have. I’m honestly grateful for technology and the bridge it has served as during this strange season.
But I still miss my church. This season has strengthened my belief that there is nothing on earth like the local church gathered together in person. I am more convinced than ever that going to church every week is essential for my soul and family’s well-being, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to worship with my church.
I miss a lot of specific things about my church, but one in particular came to my mind this week.
I miss singing with my church.
Growing up, I didn’t really sing in church. I didn’t like it. I was embarrassed to sing. And I thought it was boring. Then, over time, I transitioned to singing songs that I liked and “connected” with. It became more about my personal experience of worship. I was that guy with his hands in his pockets, mumbling the words and hoping no one would hear me.
But eventually I learned something. Singing has nothing to do with me and how I sound or even how I feel in the moment. And it has everything to do with God and his glory and his people displaying that glory together.
There is something uniquely special about having your voice drowned out by a sea of people voicing the same words as you. I believe we get a taste of this experience when we go to a live concert. It’s almost euphoric to lose yourself and become one in song with a large group of passionate people. You forget about yourself and focus all your attention on the moment and the artist on stage.
How much greater is that experience when you are singing ultimate truth to the ultimate Artist. One of the supreme joys of heaven will be the sheer number of people who will sing together in unity, finally not giving a rip about how we all sound and look.
Yes, you can sing and worship anywhere. Yes, God is pleased when we worship him in our homes. But he is also pleased when his people gather together and sing to him.
The Psalms are filled with commands to sing. Yes, we are actually commanded to sing to God (Psalm 95, 100, 147, 150, etc.). We can’t forget that the Psalms were written to a pretty large group of people, the nation of Israel. The kind of singing commanded here is corporate.
Paul and James affirm this in the New Testament when they command the church to sing together (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, James 5:13). Again, these letters were written to churches, not individuals.
What did Jesus and his disciples do on the night before he was crucified? Something we can assume they did quite often. They sang together (Matthew 26:30).
And don’t miss this, Moses was a part-time choir director! Right after one of the coolest moments in history, the Exodus, all of the people stopped to sing together. And don’t tell your Baptist friend, but they also danced (Exodus 15:20).
The Bible is clear. People should sing and they should sing together.
Singing alone is great. Worshipping in your home is a must. Some of my best praise and worship sessions are in my shower or driving down the road (one hand on the wheel and one through the sunroof, kidding, I don’t have a sunroof.) Solo singing has its own well-deserved place in the Christian life.
But I would argue there is something uniquely weighty to singing with a gathering of God’s church. YOUR church. The people you know and love. Your family.
Sometimes I try and look around during worship (unless I make eye contact then it gets weird). There can be incredible encouragement in seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those in worship around you. Especially when you know the stories behind those faces and voices.
I see the recently widowed woman singing praise to God. I see the cancer patient with lifted hands between rounds of chemo. I see the little kids who are trying their best to follow along with their parents. I see the usually stoic businessman belting out in the choir. And I see groups of people who have very little in common coming together under the banner of Christ with a single goal in mind, glorifying God.
I miss that.
So when we finally get back together, I’m gonna sing. I might even jump a pew. Probably not. But I will sing, and I won’t wonder how many songs are left and when they are gonna sing one I know and like. I won’t worry about how I sound or look. And I sure as heck won’t wish I was back home on my couch.
I’m just gonna sing. And I hope you’ll join me.