How does music bring you closer to God?
One of my favorite parts of worshipping together is hearing you sing Masithi. There is such joy in your voices and on your faces when you sing that song of praise. Honestly, that used to surprise me a little. Masithi is outside of our tradition… it’s not exactly a hymn written by Martin Luther in the 1500’s or something. Some people might find it unusual that a mainline protestant, suburban New England church gets so much happiness by singing a song from South Africa. Masithi si-ya-ku-du-mi-sa. Amen, we praise your name O God.
When we sing Masithi, we are filled with the joy of being together, filled with the joy of being church together. Singing Masithi together is one of the times that I feel closest to God.
When has music brought you closer to God?
David and the Israelites believed that the Ark of the Covenant was, literally, the seat of God. It was a way for them to get close to God. The ark, a wooden chest clad with gold was said to have been built by Moses on Mount Sinai and to contain the commandments engraved on stone tablets along with other important relics of the Hebrew faith. The covenant chest had defeated Israel’s enemies when it accompanied the army and it had been worshipped by ancestors until the time of Saul, King David’s predecessor. But Saul and his people lost their connection with the ark and their connection with God.
Now David has reclaimed the Ark of the Covenant. As the ark is brought back among the people, David and the Israelites “were joyous before the Eternal; and they were accompanied by wooden lyres and harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals.” They were so happy to be close to God that they burst into song and dance. Just like us with Masithi.
Music has been an important part of MCC for many generations. Our Messiah Sing and our concerts are ministries that we offer to our community. Our neighbors and friends return year after year to hear a variety of musicians and singers offer songs of praise and lament, songs of celebration and struggle. The music isn’t always explicitly about God, but I believe that God is always present in our offerings. By giving people the opportunity to feel, to experience a wide range of emotions, we bring God to them through our music.
How does music help you express your emotions?
It’s been a blessing to sing with the choir for a few years now. Don’t tell Cathy but, at first, I really didn’t want to join. I didn’t think I was good enough, I didn’t have the time for rehearsal, I wasn’t all that crazy about the music. I had been invited to lend my voice to the tenor section for a while and, finally, reluctantly, I joined.
Now, singing with the choir has become one of my favorite parts of the week. I have learned so much and I’ve gained more confidence in my singing and a greater appreciation for a wide variety of music. But more importantly, I’ve learned more about what it means to work together with others.
For most of my life I’ve been pretty naïve about music. I really never realized how many different parts come together to make a song. When I sing with the choir, my voice in only one of many; it’s up to me to sing my part but the song only comes together when everyone joins in. My voice alone doesn’t paint the whole picture – and when all of the parts come together, something special happens.
I’ve asked Diane and the Bell Ringers to help me out. One person will start,
What if we add another?
Let’s add another?
Now, how about the whole chord?
Now, let’s add the melody.
Did you hear the difference between one person and the whole ensemble? My work in the choir begins with just my part. Eventually it’s added to Sue and Christian’s voice in the tenor section. Then the altos and basses and sopranos are added. It takes time and effort to get all of the voices and sections to come together properly but when they do, it’s amazing to ear the difference.
To me, that’s church. Each of us does our part. Each part is equally important and special. But when we all come together, individual members of the body of Christ, working together, doing our part to live out God’s kingdom, something truly magical happens.
I’ve seen it when a new friend comes to church. One person greets them and learns their name and some of their story, others come by to say hi, someone lets me or Sandra or Cathy know so that we can also offer a welcome.
I’ve seen it when someone in church is struggling with illness or injury. The deacons make sure that others are aware, cards are sent, phone calls and visits are made. Someone brings an Ubuntu meal made by the youth group.
I saw it this past week at the Rummage sale – tables set up by the Boy Scouts, clothes donated by church members, sorted and sold by a dedicated group of volunteers looking to offer an affordable alternative to our neighbors.
We’ll see it again in the coming weeks as we all offer our own unique gifts to help out at the Twelve Shoppes of Christmas and work day, and when we walk with Samantha and the other children we baptize and teach in discovery kingdom.
Just like the choir, our church sounds best when we all play our part and work together.
The music of MCC comes in many forms. Choral works and organ pieces, Messiah sings and bell ensembles… but our music also comes in the form of prayer and charity walks and food pantries. We sing as a congregation when we each sing our part, gathering in God’s name wherever we are, doing the work of God and following in Christ’s footsteps as we support each other and our community.
David and the Israelites danced before the ark of God. We join our voices singing Masithi, and we dance together through all of the ministries of our church.
How does the music of MCC bring you closer to God? What part will you sing in our ministry together?
Let us pray.
God of song, help us to sing. Let your music flow through us as we dance in joy, partners together with each other and Christ doing your work and creating your kingdom. Masithi, si-ya-ku-du-mi-sa. Amen, we sing your praise O God. Amen.