On Friday nights the Choir’s trebles sing Vespers and are given a short homily. The following is from Br Josh, reflecting on their singing of Psalm 73:23-26:
you hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with your counsel
and afterwards receive me with glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing upon earth that I desire
in comparison with you.
Though my flesh and my heart fail me
God is the strength of my heart
and my portion for ever.”
When I was younger I was very snobbish about music. I’m still a bit of a snob, but I’m slowly getting better.
I hope that you don’t suffer from the same problem that I do. You’re all excellent musicians and you obviously care a lot about your music, so you would have an excuse!
One kind of Christian music which I really did not like when I was a teenager is what sometimes gets called “Jesus is my boyfriend” music. You might have heard some if you’ve ever attended Christian youth events or perhaps at worship services in other churches.
It’s goes something like: “oh, oh, oh I need you, I need you, I need you” or “I want to feel your warm embrace”, or whatever. One song even has the line “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss”.
You wouldn’t need much to turn some of these songs into non-Christian love songs. Because of this, I was quite cynical about the people who really liked them: ‘they don’t care about Jesus, what they really want is a boyfriend. Gross.’ I on the other hand was a good strong non-sentimental Christian.
Now no matter what you think of how good the kind of music I’m talking about is (and I still don’t like it!). I was being a terrible snob. But much worse, I was being a terrible Christian!
What many of the fans of these worships songs see, and what I failed to fully grasp, is that love of God is something like the love of another person.
Thankfully, you don’t need contemporary worship bands to have access to this idea. It runs throughout the Psalm you’ve just sang and in most of the Psalms you sing on Sundays.
God, through Jesus, can be thought of as (in verse 23) holding your hand, (in verse 24) giving you advice and welcoming you home, (in verse 25) as more important to you than anything else on earth, and (in verse 26) as someone who you can rely on no matter what happens to you in your life.
Thinking that God is worth more than anything else doesn’t mean that you should think any less of the other people and things in your life. In fact, rather than bring other things down, you can think of other things as bringing God up. Every time you experience something good, your idea of what God is can expand. God is, almost by definition, the best thing and every new experience of a good thing can help us to grow our idea of what the best thing is like.
Finally, one other thing which runs through the Psalms is the idea that God is always with us. And this is one way that God is different from anyone or anything else. Everything in our world can break, but God is not like that. This means that we can rely on God to be there no matter what happens.
Anyway, all this doesn’t make me want to sing modern “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. I’d much rather listen to you singing the Psalms. But it does make me regret how condescending I was to my fellow Christians when I was an teenager. These ideas also help me to engage with the Psalms when I read them. I hope you will find them useful as well.