Today on the drive into work I found myself behind a car with the license plate - Hymn 248. When I got to the office, I jumped on the internet only to find that there are a lot of different hymnals and a lot of Hymn 248s. But, the process made me think some of musical ministries. Despite the fact that I have a long-time friend who is very involved in the musical ministries of her church in Texas, and a number of good friends who are involved in my church, I never really thought about it as a "ministry."
I have always loved gospel music, particularly big choir gospel. The worship in the music is obvious. You can feel it, hear it, become part of it. I've also experienced that same sensation at church services in other countries. The church that I attend is all contemporary worship, meaning, in part, that we have drums, electric guitars, keyboards, etc. involved in the music. Most of the music is what you would hear on a Christian Rock radio station. My old church, on the other hand, had a contemporary service on Saturday nights and traditional services on Sunday.
When we switched churches, one of the most difficult things for me to get used to was the change in music. I miss some of the traditional hymns that became part of my worship. One of my favorites was "Whom Shall I Send?" If you are not familiar with it, here is the first verse and chorus:
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am Lord,
Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord,
if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.
It just really speaks to me. The questioning hesitance of the chorus is really me . . . .
In any event, this past weekend while people were taking communion the band played the traditional hymn "It Is Well With My Soul." It was jazzed up a bit and I think it was the first time I had heard it with basically a rock band in the background. Still, though, it really moved me. All these things together have really brought into focus the ministry aspect of the music and how important it has become to my worship. It is not a performance during church, it is not entertainment, it is a complete form of worship unto itself. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing." Psalm 100 "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music . . . ." Psalm 98 It is, of course, also a way of teaching (think "Yes, Jesus Loves Me"; "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands"; etc.)
So, among my prayers this morning is a special prayer for all those involved in musical ministry around the world. I thank you for what you are doing and I thank God for the talents that he has given you and for your sharing them with us.