“You’re not allowed to sing!”

“You’re not allowed to sing!” Those words are destroying me. I’m dying inside, just a little bit every day. Worship is my life. Worship is the beat of my soul. As we resume live worship on Sunday mornings this month, it kills me that I can lead worship, but I can’t ask the congregation to join me in lifting up their voices in the simplest expression of worship: Song. Choirs struggle to meet safely. Congregations can’t sing. And if we do, we assume a great risk.

The concern for safety came down from the CDC, and was echoed by our own bishop a few months ago. Singers are super-spreaders. That’s why, this month as we resume, we won’t be singing in worship. The aerosol spread of singers goes further and longer than just the act of speaking. Singing penetrates masks, and can make it up to 30 feet with no barrier. That’s why we’ve gone to live-streaming, and why we have such rigid protocols for in-person worship. That’s why we are encouraged to lift up our hearts rather than our voices.

And I agree with you, it’s not fair. But it’s where we are right now in the midst of a global pandemic. Will this go away eventually? Yes! I know with all my heart that we will be joining together in singing praise to our God again. I just don’t know when. But I know it will be beautiful.

Over the next few weeks in these blog posts, I’m going to explore solutions for non-singing worship in this post-covid world. I’m going to bring a lot of scripture to the table, and we’re going to talk about it. I hope this can impact your worship experience, whether it’s at home in your living room, or in the sanctuary.

Isaiah 29:13 reads, “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

And BOY do we have rules right now. But I want to examine the beginning of that scripture: “These people come near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips.” Right now, we can’t use our lips for worship. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, that option has been ripped away from us, so what remains? “Their hearts are far from me.” That doesn’t sound good either. The prophet Isaiah is condemning about a city who has abandoned the heart of their faith, creating festivals for fun and for the people, but that no longer honored God. I pray that none of us are guilty of being that kind of person, the person who does the right thing only out of obligation.
Instead, let me bring us back to the greatest commandments from the Gospel of Matthew, 22:37-40, when Jesus speaks: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I believe that when our lives are transformed and we begin to live out these two commandments, our worship will follow suit. Heart, soul, and mind doesn’t mention following the rules or using our lips. It mentions love. And when you love someone, you express it. Think about a human relationship. The child who never experiences the tender, caring love of a parent will struggle their entire life. The man or woman who never experiences true love from their spouse will have a difficult marriage. We must express our love! So, do we love God SO much that we can’t contain it? That is when worship springs forth! Can I get an ‘Amen!?”
But you can’t sing. So now what? Examine your hearts this coming Sunday as you enter into worship. When we say “sing in your hearts,” can we really try to do that? Let your expression of worship be seen in your eyes and felt deeply, tremendously, in our souls. Jesus saved us, after all. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice because God loved us SO much. Let’s express how much we love God. Let’s worship God together.
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17 Comments


Lisa Angus - September 14th, 2020 at 5:12pm

Amen!

Christine Salazar - September 15th, 2020 at 2:32pm

Amen and Amen!

Jody Leth - September 14th, 2020 at 6:45pm

Thank you Christine!

Christine Salazar - September 15th, 2020 at 2:31pm

Thank you Jody

Belinda Bryant - September 14th, 2020 at 6:46pm

I totally agree!!! So difficult for singers right now!!!

Christine Salazar - September 15th, 2020 at 2:31pm

Amen, Belinda!

danny orlando - September 14th, 2020 at 6:50pm

I agree that singing praises pierces into the soul and becomes everything. It too is my truest expression of my love for God. So, these are hard days and there will be others. We need to remain strong and vigilant. I enjoyed the post and feel the struggle.

Christine Salazar - September 15th, 2020 at 2:30pm

Danny, I've got a series of articles that have been ruminating for quite some time. Look forward for more coming that unpack this difficulty that we're all facing.

Pam Davies - September 14th, 2020 at 7:21pm

Well said. I agree.

Christine Salazar - September 15th, 2020 at 2:31pm

Thanks, Pam. I can't wait to get back to singing, but meanwhile...

Gwen aharo - September 15th, 2020 at 6:31am

Thank you Christine! Beautifully stated.

Christine Salazar - September 15th, 2020 at 2:31pm

Thank you Gwen! These are sincerely hard times.

Marcy Olhausen - September 15th, 2020 at 1:58pm

May our hearts sing along with you in praise of our great God!! ♫

Christine Salazar - September 15th, 2020 at 2:30pm

Amen!

David Moss - September 17th, 2020 at 6:07pm

John MacArthur at Grace Baptist in Dallas, TX is showing the way by responding to the "cannot sing cannot meet" request by putting the LORD first and meeting and singing. Give to Caesar that which is Caesar's but give to GOD what is GOD's.

Barry - September 22nd, 2020 at 8:04am

Well said here Christine. From my youth it has always been the hymns of our faith that I have gone to in my mind when finding myself in the "Crucible of crisis!" Victory in Jesus, The Old Rugged Cross, I'll Fly Away, When we all get to Heaven.... I could go on and on and on. Even if I can't sing those words aloud in a house of worship right now I can still sing them in my heart and soul. I think your message here goes, in part, to the heart of commitment. I heard the word commitment defined in a sermon as "the capacity to carry out the intent of a decision long after the emotion that inspired it has faded." I know that, in my own life, I need to continue to carry on in my commitment to our Lord and His work even when the emotion of that commitment has, honestly, faded some as we don't meet. Thank you for your offering here and thank you again for helping us in bell choir last Sunday afternoon. To God be he glory - great things he has, and will continue to do, in the lives of those of us who are blessed to be his through Christ!

Jane Johnston - September 22nd, 2020 at 8:08am

Thank you for these words, Christine. I was brought up to love music, especially in church! Music adds so much to the meaning of worship. Jack and I still are not comfortable with large crowds (I promise we will get there) but we do watch the live streams and have enjoyed all the devotions and the music you and others brought us. We miss it all and look forward to when all of us are together again and we can praise the Lord by lifting up our voices!