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‘Joyful noise’ or a ‘bunch of noise?’

Dear Lucy: I sing in the choir at my church. I love singing and I love being in a choir. But this choir has become a place of contention, spite, jealousy, back biting and plain old hell raising.

I just don't understand how this can be happening in the church. I'm so sick of it I want to either get out of the choir or leave this church. Any ideas?

– SH

Dear SH: My first thought was the verse, "Where two or more are gathered together in my name, there will I also be in the midst of them." Perhaps there is a gathering in the name of individuals and not in the name of The Holy One. ONE...one purpose, one goal, one body...all coming together to magnify the ONE.

So how is the singing? One of the wonderful things about music is that it is all about harmony. Is your choir making a joyful noise unto the Lord or just a bunch of noise? The charge to bring music into sacred space is a very privileged and holy appointment. Since I have no idea how this lack of harmony originated it's a little hard to be real specific. But I do know that the same human behavior that shows up in the workplace, the club, the grocery store or wherever, shows up at church.

Harmony is a very important concept. It is a thing that has to be cultivated and nurtured. We see harmony in God's creation all the time. I was traveling recently along a highway in rural Tennessee and it was raining really hard. Yet, up ahead I could see a rainbow stretching across the sky where the rain had already come and gone. That is harmony on a grand scale. I speak in small, large and all kinds of churches. I am always moved by the harmony of colors, furnishings, flowers and other loving touches in the very smallest of churches placed to create a sense of peace, beauty and harmony. Harmony is a law and a gift from our Creator.

Singing praises to God is the foundation and purpose of the power to speak. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our voices have immense power and so very much is written in the Bible about the use of the Word. Melody is such an awesome and spiritual thing. Think about what happens when the choir sings melodies that make people shout, cry, dance, moan! Where does such a power come from? And what a tremendous responsibility!

Being a part of a choir is the opportunity to come together with purpose. In the 4th century, St. Augustine said that "when we sing we pray twice." The ministry of song is an ancient and sacred responsibility. Song and music is so powerful that we read in the Bible that David used it to treat King Saul's depression. The Psalms in the Bible are a series of songs telling the story of a people's journey with God. The word 'Selah' appears at the end of many Psalms and is believed to mean "sing/play louder!"

What a sacred responsibility a choir in a church has. It is there to bring soulful and harmonious meaning to the thoughts put forth in a song, in the minister's message and in the lonely person sitting in the pew needing comfort. Perhaps your choir has forgotten its sacred purpose or never really understood its call to ministry. When the voices giving forth the music comes through a discordant, inharmonious spirit, what kind of spirit is being spilled out on poor people who came into the sanctuary to be healed, fed and comforted by the Holy Spirit?

What can you do? Be the example and spiritual reminder to the rest of the group by opening yourself to harmony. Open yourself to being so prayed up each time you go to rehearsal that your very presence is a comfort to the whole gathering. Open yourself to forgiveness, honesty, a tender heart, and harmony within your own self so that your spirit radiates peace, unity and harmony. Prayer is powerful medicine.

Church folk are still just folk. They come to church to get healed and to be a part of healing someone else. Sometimes they forget that. We also sometimes forget that we didn't just come to church to get, but also to give. Give out of the abundance of your heart and fill your heart with the right stuff before you get there so that you can live out of your own overflow and share your cup with others.

Also, share 1Peter, 3:8 with your choir; "Have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart and a humble mind."

I lift my voice in song with you, praying twice!

Lucy

(Check out Lucy Shaw's website at http://www.heartworks4u.com. You may send your questions to her by U.S. mail to: Heartworks4U, LLC; 4646 Poplar Ave. Ste 201, Memphis, TN 38117 or by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)

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