The spring season is soon coming to an end. Now that Easter is over, marked by the festive descent of the Spirit on Pentecost, we are entering our last weeks worshiping in the sanctuary. The choir is also soon closing its doors – at least for a little while. The last time you will hear the choir sing together is on Jun 21st, Father’s Day – until the fall.
Historically, the music program of a church has been sometimes called a Music Ministry. It is a very curious label since it expects the “performers” or “musicians” to somehow express or spread their faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve been wondering the past few months what that means for a choir – to be spreading faith in God. Oh, it is obvious that when a singer stands up and sings to the depths of her heart and brings life to the music and the text that she is expressing that faith. That is the easy part. But what about the communication of that faith? What do the listeners get out of that music, especially when maybe the listeners are not musically sophisticated, or do not understand the words because they are in a different language? There is no easy answer for that. If our music program wishes to become a true Music Ministry, this is the question that we have to consider. The choir is growing – we are becoming more well-versed in world literature; we are digging deep and reattaching our roots to the tradition of Christian classical music. We are finding voices in other languages, other styles, more sophisticated music, etc. But how is this growth-ful for the congregation? Yes, it is lovely for them to hear beautiful music on Sunday morning, but how does that help them grow in faith? These are questions that need to be considered.
Pastor Hartmut said that ministries test our endurance, our passion, and our love. They provide temptation to drop the cross of our burdens. I can tell you that with the hike in rehearsal hours per week and the leaps of difficulty in our musical choices, the choir is definitely showing great endurance. And do I need to say anything about passion? Just listen to how fervently each singer sings every Sunday morning, finding the fire of the spirit inside his or her own voice! But love – that is the tough part of ministry. Love is about connection between people, i.e. the love between the congregation and choir. How involved is the choir with the congregation? How can we collaborate more and build our church with music? And this may sound silly to you, as it did to me at first, but: what are the burdens of the choir as a ministry? To keep ourselves in good voice? Or, is there something deeper, something that we have yet to find to immerse ourselves in the life, the pain, the suffering, the burdens of the congregation?
I know I am asking a lot of questions. I do not have the answers. I am not saying that the Music Ministry is in bad shape. But, if we are to continue to grow, we must answer these questions. A professor of mine at Rutgers, Dr. James, said that “growth is the acid test of Love.” Let us find the love and keep growing together, congregation with its choir, one church, one faith, under Jesus Christ’s supervision. May our work face the challenges of ministry head-on and in good voice.