(In The Life Of The Church)
Why We Sing
Josh asked me (Jamie) to write the blog this week. Since his sermon topic for Sunday is “Why We Sing,” I want to think through this a little bit.
I’m what you might call an introvert. I live most of life my life inside my own head. Because of this, I sometimes struggle to take what’s going on in there and share it with other people. I’m not sure what muscle is responsible for projecting thoughts outward, but mine is pretty weak. That being said, I still have this urge to express myself—to take the things that I naturally keep inside and throw them out into the world. There have always been certain things that I felt could be dealt with through normal conversations with other people, but I’ve noticed that I’m no good at using this medium to express certain kinds of things that happen in my head. I have a suspicion that many people have a category of thoughts/feelings they struggle to put into words, though I don’t know that the content of this category is the same for everyone. For me, this is the category of existential extremes: deep pain, great hope, extreme joy, etc.—especially in relation to God. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the only way I can launch these feelings outside of my head is through music.
When I first realized this, I did not yet make much music of my own. Instead, I sought out music that I felt embodied some aspect of my thoughts. When I got to college and started a Religion program, my supply of things I couldn’t express normally went into overload. This is what drove me to become a songwriter. When I began writing my own songs, I realized that this activity not only allowed me to express myself in a robust way, but it also helped me work through questions—to blaze new trails in my mind. Writing helped me get around mental blocks and think more clearly. More than that, there were songs that I wrote with a particular idea in mind that, a few months down the road, I found to have a completely new and unintended (!) significance for me. This changed my thinking about music a little bit. Whereas I had considered music to be something I could use to express myself, I found that songs have a way of reaching back and changing me somehow.
That’s enough about me. I say all this to say: for me, music—singing—is something that my sanity depends upon. Because I’m not special, I have a feeling there is some degree of this that is true for many people.
So. When I think about singing together in church, I associate that time as equal parts expression and formation. Singing allows us to put words in our mouths that help us express things we might not otherwise be able to—either because we didn’t have the words, or couldn’t bring ourselves to say them—and singing allows us to allow God to shape who we are by embedding these songs in our brains.
I want to propose that the songs we sing together in worship are a main source of the theology that bubbles to the front of our minds when we try to think about God.
They are certainly not the only source, but songs have this ability to hang out just below the surface of our conscious mind and pop up at will. The words we put in our mouths through song have a tendency to come pouring out when we are minding our own business vacuuming, driving, getting dressed, etc. Because of this, it matters greatly what kinds of songs we sing together at church. If we sing songs that don’t really say much of anything, we are setting ourselves up for failure when it comes to thinking about God. We might have a memory full of words, but the kind of picture these words paint will be hollow, useless. And worse, we can start to get so comfortable with these pictures that we begin to mistake them for what God is really like. On the other hand, if we sing songs that say quite a bit, but one would be hard pressed to interpret the phrases and imagery as true, we are no better off.
This means that the stakes are pretty high for trying to sing the “right” songs. If we sing songs that don’t accurately represent our desires and feelings as a congregation, something is wrong. If we sing songs that don’t conflict with our desires and feelings, yet also do not challenge us to become more fully formed in the way of Christ, something is wrong.
Because of this, each of us has the right to speak our mind about the songs we sing. The tricky part about this is that our congregation is made up of quite a few people, and there are thus several hundred different sets of desires/feelings in our congregation. And by the same token, there are several hundred different sets of expectations for lyrical content that we would consider fit for formation. So: we should all feel free to be honest about our feelings toward the songs we sing—and we should all be prepared to be humble and loving (read: willing to change our mind) in the conversations surrounding these songs. The songs we put into our mouths as a congregation stand as the vocabulary of expression and a source of formation for all of us.
Welcome Back Lunch
Next Sunday, August 30th, we are having a luncheon to welcome new students to UBC, as well as reconnect with everyone who has been gone for the summer. We would love for you to stay and join us for lunch. We will provide the food and drinks, you just bring your appetite. This luncheon is for EVERYONE! If you are student, toddler, empty-nester, young professional, or anyone else, we want you to stay for lunch and connect/reconnect with other UBC’ers. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
In Family News
We would like to issue a UBC wide congratulations to the Henderson Family who welcomed the newest #champion4thelord into their family.
Claire Alice Henderson
birthday: 7/14/15 10:55pm
birth height: 19.5 inches
birth weight: 7lbs 3oz
enneagram #: 5
There are three must-see shows happening at Common Grounds (or, if it rains, ubc) next week:
- Tuesday, 8/25: All Sons & Daughters and Robbie Seay (we sing songs from both of these artists on Sunday mornings)
- Thursday, 8/27: Jon Foreman and Jillian Edwards (we sing some of Jon Foreman’s songs on Sunday mornings, and Jillian is a former UBCer)
- Sunday, 8/30: Lomelda (Hannah Read has been a UBCer for several years, and has shared her gifts with us many times. This may be the last Lomelda show in the area for a while—don’t miss it!)
Work is Worship
Greeters: Haylee & Robinsons
Coffee Makers: Kayla & Michael
Mug Cleaners: Haines
Sunday Sermon Text: Genesis 1:1-2:4 "The Worship Hour Part 4: Why We Sing"
Sunday School starts back on August 30th. You can read about the classes on the Sunday School page.
Pub Group starts back this Wednesday at 8pm at the Dancing Bear. Come have a pint with some other UBCers and talk about stuff (and things). 21 and up.
Welcome Back Lunch after Church on August 30th.
Emerging Parents: September 2nd. Interested? email email@example.com
Parents Breakfast: Sunday September 18th from 9:30-10:15.
New UBCers Lunch after church on September 27th. More information to come
UBCYPers (UBC Young Professionals) September 18th. More information to come.
Do you have an Emergency? Do you Need to talk to a Pastor?:
254 498 2261
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair- Kristin Dodson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jana Parker: email@example.com
Stan Denman: Stan_Denman@baylor.edu
David Wilhite: David_Wilhite@baylor.edu
Byron Roldan: Byron_Roldan@baylor.edu
Sharyl Loeung: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Davis: email@example.com
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
Tom Haines: firstname.lastname@example.org
Josh McCormick: Josh.McCormick@dwyergroup.com
Chris Kim: email@example.com
Hannah Kuhl: HannahKuhl@hotmail.com
Justin Pond: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lacy Crocker: email@example.com
UBC HR Team
If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.
Maxcey Blaylock: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mathew Crawford: email@example.com
Callie Schrank: Callie_Schrank@baylor.edu
Jeff Walter: Jeff_Walter@ubcwaco.org
Rob Engblom: Rob_Engblom@baylor.edu