A while back, we had Music Appreciation Sunday. We took our normal liturgy for a Sunday morning, and, where we could, substituted singing for speaking. New Kirk Presbyterian seemed to enjoy that service very much. So the session voted in favor of making every fifth Sunday a worship service of song. Maybe that's what we ought to call it: SOS Sunday. Of course, if you're like me, now you'll hear Sting's voice in your head all day.
If you've worshiped in a Lutheran, Episcopal, or Roman Catholic church lately, probably the difference that stood out most was the way they sing psalms and other prayers. Usually, the only talking in a high-liturgy, traditional worship comes in the form of scripture passages, affirmations of faith, and homilies. Everything else is song. And that teaches us something about our own worship that we may have forgotten: everything else in our worship is prayer.
Maybe you're like me. Sure, I pray. Most of time, however, you'd never know it. My part-time job with Hospice of Laurens County requires praying aloud with folks at times; but, even there, as with most other times in my life, praying is silence. Said better, silence is my prayer. I won't go into the theology, psychology, and sociology of prayer. I will, though, lean on the idea here that prayer is nothing more than modes--not moods, and please don't confuse the two. Silence is a mode. For me, it's my go-to mode. There's also spoken prayer in the presence of a few, or even in a worship gathering, where the mode is sort of an in-the-moment encounter and response to life situations. The most fascinating mode of prayer is corporate prayer in gathered worship, speaking together words used by centuries of gathered worshipers before us. And then there's singing as a mode of prayer. Song is nothing like silence (except, of course, the use of the silence between the notes). Nor is it anything like speaking (except, of course, the use of language in lyrics).
So silence, speaking, and singing in their various forms are all modes of prayer. Every fifth Sunday, we want to designate a whole worship service to prayer--the mode of prayer of singing. Some parts of the liturgy will be spoken, but the service will be full of songs. I won't preach a sermon. You won't, with Sting, have to be "sending out an S.O.S." Have fun getting that song out of your head today.
Our next Service of Song (SOS) will be next Sunday. If there are hymns or songs you'd like us all to sing, or even if there's a song on your heart you'd like to share, please let our Director of Music, Alison, or me know.