This week’s message has a musical theme. Even to a person untrained in music, it’s clear that good music has more than one part. Music has melody and harmony. In our hymns, the congregation usually sings the melody, while the organ provides the harmony in its accompaniment. When the choir sings a song, one of the parts (usually the sopranos) sings the melody while the rest harmonize around it. The melody has to be there for the song to sound right, and to carry the core message of the music; the harmony or accompaniment adds to the melody, making it more beautiful, more interesting, more meaningful.
In church, we have two kinds of music: special music and hymns. Special music is offered as part of worship by people who are specially gifted with talents for music. Our organists, our worship band, our youth band, our choir – these musicians have received musical gifts from God, and they share those gifts to lead and beautify worship. We all know that God has gifted each of us differently. Where God has given us more, He asks us to use that gift more. These musically gifted people do that in the special music.
But there are also things that God expects each of us to do, whether we are especially gifted or not. Hymns are like that. This joyful expression by the whole congregation is part of the wonder of our communion as the Body of Christ. Most of us are familiar with the King James translation of several Psalms, which encourage us to “Make a Joyful Noise” to the Lord. It doesn’t matter whether the joy you show sounds like the choir of angels, or more like a concrete mixer or whistling teapot, God wants your joyful sounds.
The hymns, then, are analogous to how God expects us to treat the stewardship of our worldly goods. He wants a joyful gift from each and every one of us. This gift, this tithe, is to be the first and best of what he has given us. We are to joyfully give. Whether God has blessed us with a lot or a little, He still wants something – something that shows our appreciation for everything in our lives, since it all comes to us from Him. This kind of giving is like the melody of a song, or the hymns in our service. It is the core music of our stewardship.
Yet, while all of us give something, there are some in the congregation who have been specially gifted – with unusually large measures of generosity, with an abundance of material goods, or with a strong desire to help others by sharing what we have. You might be one of them. Those people are the “choir of givers”. They are the harmony of our stewardship, for it is they who step up and encourage the entire congregation’s generosity by giving above and beyond their tithe so that the work of the congregation can grow.
Melody and harmony; hymns and special music – both exist to glorify God and make our worship meaningful. We can’t and shouldn’t count on the choir and organist to provide all the music in a worship service. If we did, it would be like hearing that organ music without the melody. God’s work thrives when the whole of His people participate, so the congregation needs to sing the hymns, to provide the melody. In the same way, it is important for each of us to do our joyful regular stewardship, and be thankful for the “choir” of givers who encourage us by giving offerings to bless God’s work. If we do, the blessings on our congregation will overflow onto others as our music blesses those who are with us in worship, whether they are members or visitors.
So remember, make a joyful noise – with your voices and with your giving.