So here I am.
Three weeks in and so far so good. I’ve been making it to classes on time, going on day trips and excursions around England and just generally enjoying the moments that I encounter. There’s one thing that has definitely been very different from home. Church.
Church = Consistency
So I’m still going to church regularly and I’ve found a small church that meets on my campus. I’ve been enjoying the different service style because it feels more intimate than some of the other churches I’ve been to. Even though it’s very different there’s one thing that is the same: the music.
Now the arrangements are different because they’re mostly acoustic with a very minimal instrumentation. I’ve enjoyed having more acoustic style worship on regular Sundays after coming from a church community where everything always has to be big on main Sunday services and acoustic style isn’t encouraged for main services but instead is strictly for smaller services. It creates a more intimate environment and welcomes spaces for silence and contemplation which I LOVE. Yet the songs we sing remain the same. I know all the lyrics and recognize many of the arrangements at the minimal level and there’s no thought required in order to follow along.
A Source of Comfort
Why is this so significant?
Well, my home church essentially sings the same 20 songs over and over again. In the past, I have not made any attempts to hide my disdain for this. Attempts to introduce new songs in different styles and genres are not always encouraged and much of the new songs that are coming out are in the same vein and style which I personally do not find to be very musically stimulating. Obviously, these are not excuses and I’m not ignorant of the fact that I often picked from the same set of songs out of convenience. Yet I also cannot deny the difficulty and frustration that I often felt.
Yet, in this new place, those same songs have actually been a source of comfort. I’ve been so immersed in new that there has been something so comforting about recognizing the familiar. Church is one thing that has remained constant in my time here in England and to enter that space to find things that feel familiar and like home make me happy. Those same songs that used to annoy me and irritate me, God is now using to bring me peace and comfort in this place of new.
I don’t deny that many of these songs have been a tremendous blessing to so many people and I don’t want to be so caught up on making sure that music is so complicated and artistically stimulating that it creates a disconnect for people — especially for music in a church context. Yet what I am saying is that I am now able to appreciate these songs with a new frame of reference and state of mind.
Proper Use of My Heart Language
I can say confidently that music is one of my heart languages; meaning it is a language that speaks to my innermost person. So music can either provide great peace and joy or it can really bother and upset me. Seeing, hearing and experiencing my language being used and spoken well brings me immense joy and excitement. On the flip side, seeing, hearing and experiencing the misuse, improperly spoken, casual, misunderstood form of my heart language angers me, frustrates me, and saddens me. I think I have often felt that many of these songs create a space where my language can be spoken improperly and be misunderstood. Yet these same songs are now feeling like a very accurate and effective use of my heart language because I’m needing those to be spoken in this time and space.
What Does This All Mean?
Does this mean that I suddenly love these songs? Nope.
Does this mean that I now don’t think that those same songs are generally loosing their meaning because they’re being chosen out of convenience? Nope.
Do I still believe that church music needs to be more artistically and musically stimulating in order to give life to a fuller expression of worship? 100%.
But what this does mean is that I’m having a renewed sense of appreciation for those songs that used to annoy me. Those spaces that I took for granted and in some cases looked down upon because of their simplicity are now places where I can authentically experience the presence and love of Jesus.
And that is a very very good thing.
Until Next Time,
Peace & Harmonies