Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:16-17)
Our family is one week away from a vacation. We are counting down the days and rehearsing the trip in our minds with great anticipation. But along with the excitement comes the reality that much work has to be done in order for us to fully relax during our time away. We've already spent months saving money and making travel arrangements, but now the immediate beckons. Bills need to be prepaid, the house needs secured, neighbors notified, the car needs a tune-up and work responsibilities need to be delegated. Then there's the packing -- oh, the packing! We pack outfits for each day, swim-gear, toiletries, medicine, entertainment and snacks for the drive. We go over every bit of the itinerary just to be sure that every 'I' is dotted and every 'T' crossed.
Even though the weeks leading up to our trip can be demanding, and a bit stressful, we've found that all the prep-work pays off in the end. Now, just being prepared doesn't guarantee our vacation will be perfect. But we've found a direct correlation occurs - work hard so you can play hard. Or in my case, so you can float in a pool, care-free.
Having just preached a sermon on Psalm 33:1-3, my mind has been applying this same principle of preparedness to singing in the church. Let's admit it- none of us are naturally ready first thing in the morning to engage ourselves emotionally and physically in enthusiastic singing. For some, just getting to church on time drains a fair amount of our energy, patience and delight. To say that we are prepared to worship rightly and whole-heartedly is an over-statement. It's more likely that we're just prepared enough to be present and accounted for, and that's about it.
If our singing is to be worshipful, meaningful, joyful, thankful and enthusiastic (and I believe it should be), then its going to require a little work beforehand, just like prepping for vacation. I order to help, each week we will be posting the coming Sunday's song list on our website, on the Music Ministry page under the 'Ministries' tab. Perhaps you can use it to:
- Meditate intentionally on the rich words we sing before we sing them
- Teach children songs for the first time, and develop a habit of enthusiastic singing as a family
- Learn new songs introduced at ABEFC in the last few years; all of these have been written about on our blog and are hyper-linked for your convenience
- Practice your singing - look up the song, download a recording and make a play-list or CD. Play it in the car, in the kitchen, or in the shower! And sing along! These songs weren't meant only for Sundays - make them a regular part of your listening diet
It has been my experience that I receive more spiritual nutrition and encouragement when I show up on Sundays prepared. I am more gracious in serving, more awake to listen and engage, and especially for me, more enthused in my singing. If you also want to enjoy the singing, to be enriched by it, and to use it to serve others, then put in the effort beforehand. Be prepared. It will be worth it.