You can count on one hand the number of Psalms that don’t encourage us to praise the Lord. One of the main ways of doing that is to sing. Several of the Psalms encourage us to at times sing loudly. So, when we met for the first time together at Bridlewood school this Sunday it was strange that we were all wearing masks and were apart from those leading the worship not allowed to sing. Its right that we all do as we are asked and for the sake of our friends cover our mouths and not greet one another with the usual friendly hug or even handshake. I had to stop myself singing a number of times during our worship time and not being able to sing out was difficult. The danger is that we just watch and let the worship team do it and then become observers only.
So how can we learn to Praise the Lord together while not singing, as Tom encouraged yesterday. I have heard it said that we don’t need to sing to praise God. I am sure there is some truth in that but singing familiar songs with others is part of the life of any community. Youth come together at concerts to hear their favourite bands and sing along to familiar songs. They feel the connection that singing together brings and it is part of a need for community that brings a sense of belonging. For Christians, singing together has another dimension too. As we sing and worship together, we sense a greater connection to God and can feel his presence growing stronger. We leave with a sense of being uplifted, more part of his family and closer to God.
Here are a few suggestions that could help us connect more together during our face covered worship times. We can hum while thinking of the words. We can stand up and clap and move around a little and even dance. Psalm 150.4 encourages us to praise his name with dancing. We are encouraged to lift our hands to him in worship. (1 Tim 2.8). If it is a song, we don’t know we can take in the words and mull them over in our minds as the song is sung to us. It is true that our times together reflect back to our own individual devotion. I am trying to sing out my praise to God when I am on my own in our car. I am still singing “I can sing of your love for ever…” from the chorus “Over the mountains and sea your river runs with love for me”. That chorus was a particular blessing to me, and I think to others too this Sunday. We can read out a Psalm or scripture that praises God for his greatness and love. We can do this when we are together or when we meet up. Some have learnt to journal and write down their own expressions of thanks and devotion to him.
It is interesting that the bible encourages us to Praise him in good times and difficult times. These are difficult times. I do not find it quite so easy in the difficult times, but I am learning to praise him in the midst of these restrictions too.
Another way to praise God is by simply resting in his presence. We put on some worship music, find a convenient place to lie down and just rest and take in the words being sung. This is often called Soaking. More about that at another time.
Let us not allow face masks to take away this wonderful privilege of praising and worshiping the living God, both together and on our own. It is easy to get out of the habit so let’s find new and inspirational ways to praise Him for all He is to us and all He has done for us.