If you'd told me on March 9th, 2020, that in less than a week, our lives would take on a very different tone, and our creative minds would need to go into overdrive just to figure out how to sing safely in church, I'd have called you crazy. But here we are. And here we've been for five months. We're the same church we were before March, the same body of Christ, worshiping--though it does look so different now--and meeting, though it be through Zoom tiles and small garden churches. There are some ways we've already moved toward safer means of musical worship, like humming rather than singing, which Liz wrote a beautiful piece on recently. In the coming weeks, we'll be distributing some egg shakers to the IAC households so you can actively participate in the rhythm section (and it doesn't spread droplets)! In fact, I encourage you to paint the egg shaker so it can be a unique representation of your artsiness.
Another thing I find helpful, now that it seems singing together is fraught with danger, is to do some receiving instead of participating. For instance, we can educate ourselves about how the church has endured and worshiped through hardships in the past. We can watch a concert film like "Amen! Music of the Black Church" which is a live recording of the Indiana University African American Choral Ensemble, or go to YouTube and search for videos of "Black Sacred Harp," which is Shapenote singing in the Black Church. Maybe research the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the oldest African-American a cappella ensemble in the United States. They started singing together in 1871! Also, their versions of three different spirituals will be the focus of our Sunday service preludes from September through November--so we'll be learning these tunes together.
Also, if you haven't tried a garden church yet, how about you sign up for one this week? I found that even from behind a mask and with just a few folks, worship feels more communal and corporate than just belting it out alone at home (though that is also a sweet sound to God's ears)!
I'll admit that even with all these ideas to get us worshiping musically and safely during the pandemic, I miss the old way. I miss hearing you all harmonize, seeing hands raised, and getting that gorgeous linger of an echoed final a cappella note in the high ceiling of the chapel. It's ok to miss it. It's also ok to lament it, to sit in the sadness for a bit. But let's allow God the space in our sadness to open our eyes and hearts to new ways of bringing our musical worship to Him. I believe we'll look back on this strange time someday with the memory of not only great change and the pang of loss, but overwhelmingly of God's provision.
Let's listen for it together.