After finishing up a few projects, I’m happy to be digging again into Steve Guthrie’s wonderful book, Creator Spirit: The Holy Spirit and the Art of Becoming Human.
After the corruption of creation and community, the Spirit works to restore our humanity. Integral to this is the Spirit’s restoring us to one another, uniting us together in the new and renewed people of God.
Guthrie points to several texts in which Paul connects the church’s singing and the Spirit’s unifying work (Eph. 5:18-21; Col. 3:14-16; Rom. 15:5-11). He then notes the significance(s) of this connection:
When the church sings together, it announces the new community the Spirit has created in Christ. But the church’s singing not only announces this new community, it enacts it. When the church sings together, the creation of “one new humanity in place of the two” (Eph. 2:15) becomes an aural reality–something Paul’s readers could hear with their own ears. When they sang together in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, they would have heard one voice composed of many voices. They would have heard a single melody arising from the mouths of men and women, Jews and Greeks, slave and free. If the church is the new humanity, there here is its voice (p. 80).
For Paul, music is a way of being the body that is the church, while also (literally) giving voice to this new community. In song we are able to not just imagine but hear this restored humanity. “Songs, hymns, and spiritual songs,” in other words, are both a way that people are incorporated into a community and, at the same time, an embodiment of that community (p. 81).
One thought on “Singing to Celebrate & Embody the New Humanity”
A few weeks ago I taught a Sunday morning Bible class wherein I started with a clip from the musical Oklahoma. The clip was of the song ‘The Surrey With The Fringe On Top.’ I got the class to observe that as Curly sang, he and Laurey were transported to another reality; to another realm. Even after Curly revealed that he hadn’t really rented the surrey and then resumed his singing, that didn’t matter to Laurey – the song for her defied appearances and she was still lost in another world.
I then drew the class’ attention to Miriam’s, Hannah’s and Mary’s songs. I made the point that they were not JUST singing. They were singing new realities and singing new realities into existence. They were defying the world. They were beating the world. They were judging the world.
We have no idea of who we are. We have no idea of what our singing (and our prayers, Supper, gathering, speech, etc) does. God shows his power through weakness.