We began our service with a Trinitarian hymn “Come, Thou Almighty King.” So, of course, we couldn’t leave out a stanza! Then we sang a new chorus—the refrain to the song 294 in our hymnal “Trust His Word.” At this point the congregation was wondering, “Why are we singing about trusting His Word after the Trinity hymn?”
Pastor Mike did the music ministry a huge favor before he prayed. He told the congregation that we love to learn new songs. Pastoral endorsement from the pulpit is the stamp of approval for our church family. Frankly, learning a new song is always difficult since most of the congregation refuses to pick up a hymnal and follow the dots. But Pastor understands that new songs are necessary to a vibrant music ministry! And the congregation sang with redoubled effort because of his encouragement.
Following the prayer, we observed a sweet baptism when one of our deacons baptized his young daughter. Then a brass quartet played a nice setting of “Trust and Obey.” After their song, I got up and led that exact song for us to sing. But knowing that it is a familiar song, I had planned to change it up a bit. On the chorus, I had only the men sing the word “trust” and only the ladies sing the word “obey.” That always causes the congregation to laugh at the machismo to insist the ladies sing the word “obey.”
Then on the next stanza, I make only the men sing “obey” and tell only the ladies to sing “trust.” By separating the words “trust” and “obey” out, it forces folks to think of the song in a new way. And a little laughter to capture everyone’s attention is often a good thing. For those who were wondering: yes, I knew the effect that “song leading stunt” would have on the congregation. And I placed it right before the choir song to help my people focus on the profound words of the great hymn “Thy Word is like a Garden.” Since the beautiful music is softer and flowing, I feared that folks would “zone out” and miss what God had for them. It seemed to work.
Just before the choir sang, we repeated the chorus “Trust His Word.” Because we had already sung it several times, it felt more familiar. And it made perfect sense to sing it just before a choral meditation on the Word of God.
The choir song uses a text by hymn writer Edwin Hodder comparing the Word of God to a flower garden, a deep mine, stars, and an armory. Then the last stanza challenges us to stop and smell the roses, to mine the jewels, to use the stars to guide us, and to use the weapons of the armory to do battle for the Lord! As I said, it is a spiritually profound text.
Pastor Mike finished up Romans 14 this week. And what a sermon it was! At times the auditorium was completely silent—often a sign that people are impacted. If you missed Sunday morning’s sermon, be sure to listen here.