Sunday was a lot of fun. I went with the choir from Southport Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where Debbie and I attend, to a choral festival at East 91st Street Christian Church (E91) with eight other choirs.
It was a marvelous afternoon rehearsal and evening concert. Each choir sang one piece, then all nine choirs joined with the Covenant Orchestra from E91 for five more pieces. The combined choir numbered about three hundred.
Shockley Flick, director of the choir from E91, in introducing the evening's program, said that if we talked a while, we would pretty soon see our doctrinal differences. He was right. My guess is that we could have gotten into some spirited discussions.
But that night wasn't about debating the finer points of theology or doctrine. It was about music and worship. It was about harmony. It was about being in tune with each other. It was as much about listening to the whole as it was about singing each individual part. All of those individual parts united in a common goal of worship through sound, tone and word. Theologically diverse as we might have been, for that night we were one church.
If you ask me, when the church is singing, it becomes truly one. My tribe of Christians is the Disciples of Christ. We come out of the same reform movement as the Churches of Christ, churches that do not use instrumental music in worship, and in a way, I think they're really on to something.
In the Churches of Christ they sing, and they sing well. They sing in four-part harmony. Each person has their part to carry, but it's the unity of the group as they sing that makes it worship.
As I was mulling this piece, I happened upon a video clip from Avon Christian Church, the same church that hosted Patchwork and I during a stop on the Tenderness Tour. Carolyn Scanlan, pastor to the congregation, and three other women from the church join together on a four-part a capella piece. You can watch the video on YouTube. (And yes, it was Super Bowl Sunday.)
Watch how the harmony, the working together, elevates the sense of worship as they move through the piece. Each individual part is important, but it becomes worship as the parts come together and depend on each other to build the whole.
Thomas Campbell said, "The church of Jesus Christ on earth is essentially, intentionally and constitutionally one." I think he knew that the church needed to sing.