A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of singing for a group of people gathered for a meal at the community center in town. They were playing bingo when I arrived. The group of about 10 older folks gather every weekday to eat together, socialize and listen to whatever musician the director of the program rounds up.
As I walked into the room, no one really looked up from their bingo cards. They were going for blackout and the players were focused on their numbers. When they finished playing, the bingo caller glanced over at me and said, “OK, you can go ahead and start.” I fumbled around with my music, strummed a few chords, needlessly re-tuned my guitar. The people in the room were friends, companions, peers. I was just a youngster coming in to provide some background music as they waited for their lunches.
But then we started sharing music. I am getting ready for a hymn sing next Sunday and I’ve been thinking about the power of singing together. I wanted to try a small hymn sing of sorts with this group because the director had mentioned that they liked hymns.
So, I took a deep breath, cleared my throat and told them I wasn’t going to sing by myself, but I wanted them to join in a little hymn sing right there at their tables. No one was paying attention. One gentleman sitting close enough to hear me laughed and said,”Oh, you don’t want to hear us sing.” But I smiled nervously and said – “Of course I do,” and I started to play.
Singing and playing with forced confidence, I steadied my voice and began “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow… Because He lives, all fear is gone…” During the last chorus I thought I heard someone humming softly. Next, I played “Blessed Assurance” and I was sure I heard more humming. Then I asked if anyone had requests. Someone probably felt sorry for me and called out, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” That time one man in the corner sang every word along with me. When that song finished, the one brave singer said, what about “The Church’s One Foundation?” and a few more sang along with the first verse. Then we sang “Amazing Grace.” And suddenly the room was filled with the words of this familiar song, as every single person in the room sang softly.
It was practically magic.
We sang out that last verse: “When we’ve been there 10,000 years / Bright, shining as the sun…” and I had a vision of all of us together in heaven, singing praises to God. At 32 years old, I am a good 40-50 years younger than the folks I was singing with that day. But just think. When we’ve been in heaven 10,000 years, 40 or 50 years will be imperceptible. We are peers when you think of a time frame that long, and what we have in common far outweighs whatever differences we may have. For those of us saved by God’s amazing grace, we have so many reasons to sing together to our amazing God.
I hope you have time to join us at our Hymn Sing at Orchard Hill Church at Lincoln Center [18891 Q Avenue, Grundy Center, IA]. I’m praying for more worshipful and magical moments of singing together. Let me know if you have any questions and I hope to see you there!