Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Sing a New Song - Sunday 3rd September 2017

The psalms of the Old Testament repeatedly urge us to ‘sing a new song’. Of course, from the point of view of ancient Israel’s song writers this was a good way of promoting business, but there is more to their repeated lyric than that. These encouragements to sing a new song (including one in the book of Isaiah) all come from the period after the destruction of Israel and Judah, when the spiritual leaders of the Jews were looking to rebuild their nation and their faith.
That’s why they needed a new song. The old songs had failed. They needed something new.
Singing played a central role in ancient societies. It was a primary means of communication and information storage. Before people had books or wrote letters, they shared and remembered ideas using songs. After the total disaster of the collapse of their nation, their culture and their religion, the ancient Jews were very much in need of a new song.
We live in an age when organised Christianity, once supremely influential in Europe and beyond, is in ongoing and prolonged decline. Organised religion, which once commanded universal respect, is now considered with deep suspicion.
We need a new song.
The rising generation of young people have almost no interest in visiting exclusive religious institutions to sing exclusive religious songs.
We need a new song.
That said, this new song - whatever it may be - may not be a song at all. Communal singing in general has declined in recent decades. What we need is a new communication, a new way of placing the knowledge of God’s love and God’s way into the hearts and minds of ordinary people. For too long, churches have plodded on in the hope that people will come back. They won’t. Time doesn’t go backwards.
Whether of not it actually involves singing, we need a new song.

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