Our children’s choir practiced and performed a Christmas Cantata with our adult choir at church. I still can sing a song or two from “Lo! A Star” (1962) although I resisted the impulse to get the one copy on eBay this morning. During weekly worship I would observe the choir as they sat and sang before us and behind the preachers. Their expressions often changed but their faces remained steadfast.
In the decades to come pastors moved, the message was reformed, but the same faithful faces remained in the choir. While some new singers took the place of a few, and while all of them aged over the decades, the constant choir was a reassuring testament to an enduring faith in God’s love, justice, and purpose for the creation in every church I served.
When Lynn Turnage led 6000 Triennium youth in singing, moving, and miming the Nylon’s song “Face in the Crowd” I would internally sing a face in the “choir”.
The Moberly choir was “a fellowship group that sings.” That was a way of practicing hospitality to anyone who wanted to join us, but it had a deeper meaning. Like other choirs, ours was a small, supportive, and sensitive community who were committed to the church and to each other in weekday rehearsal and Sunday worship.
In various churches I’ve felt the year-long grief of life-long choir members seeking new ways to worship and support each other from a distance after we learned that “singing is like a 5-minute cough.” (And that was not just a critique of my singing). As with all grieving, we “grieve with hope” for something better to come that is waiting to be born.
I’ve often heard the phrase, “she was just preaching to the choir” – a preacher who invites people to be faithful followers of God when the only listeners are already faithfully leading worship each Sunday. It seems to me that a lot of media proclaims opinions by preaching to their own choir — reinforcing beliefs and biases already held on the full spectrum of points of view.
If one purpose of the church is to “comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable” how are you supported by or challenged by those you watch and hear? What refrains are being repeated to you? Are they helpful or harmful? How do you sing your songs of Zion in a strange land? (Psalm 137)