“Summertime, and the livin is easy.”
Well, that’s what the song says anyhow. But the livin ain’t easy. In fact, there is so much pain and injustice all around, how can we even sing?
I’ve been singing my whole life. Songs are deeply rooted in my heart so it’s appropriate that not only is my name from scripture, Ecclesiastes 3:1,”To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven” it’s also a song! The Byrds recorded Turn, Turn, Turn more than a decade before I was born but the lyrics (taken from Ecc 3:1-8) have had great impact on my life.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
That’s quite a list! But there is one thing missing from this list that has recently struck me – Singing.
I woke up the day after the elementary shooting in TX with such compound grief in my heart. The cry of my soul was, “It’s too much, Lord!” I heard him respond, “Sing.”
How? Nothing I have to say sounds adequate right now! And there was the answer. I didn’t need to say the right thing. I could sing. Sing the melody of grief. Sing the tone of sadness. Sing the line of anger. Sing the message of justice. Sing the song of hope.
There is always a time to sing.
Songs take our words (or groans from our soul) and transcend them into something far more powerful. It’s often a joke that Musical Theater people (that’s me) will spontaneously burst into song. There is actually a motivation for that. In acting school I was taught that when the words no longer convey the emotion, we must sing, and when the song just doesn’t cut it, we dance.
From the beginning, music has been an expression of our love, great celebration, our anger, sorrow and pain, our victory, and our hope. Scripture is full of songs and they are meant to be sung. I heard a teacher say, “if the book of Psalms was in the New Testament, our worship services would look and sound very different.” And we are called to sing. The Lord has given us the gift of song to express what our words can’t. We can sing of our pain with great expectation in the Lord’s faithfulness.
“Sing, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,
you who have never been in labor.
For the desolate woman now has more children
than the woman who lives with her husband,”
says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:1)
Today, dear reader, I want to lock arms with you and sing. Sing loudly the desperate cry of help. Sing the declaration of his justice. Sing with longing the song of mercy. Sing with tears the melody of sadness. And sing the song of joy – joy in the Lord’s faithfulness. I want to sing with you the “Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!” (Psalm 118:15).
Now is the time to sing.