All of history and the Christian life can be described as a divine musical. Think of our generation as a modern, global cast of characters in the most recent grand production. We are playing our part in the story, the themes having already been introduced by the master playwright years ago. Alas, we are not following the script as closely as previous casts were careful to do, and the current cast has a slight issue, our modern actors have all but lost the musical ability to perform the roles. You can imagine the difficulties there. To compensate, the modern cast and crew have seen fit to edit and rework the musical by removing the most challenging and recognizable music numbers and replacing them with dialogues and diatribes requiring less time and coordination to perform. They are spreading the word that singing and dancing are optional skills for performing in this musical. And, if that were not enough, the cast has collectively decided to meet and rehearse their lines when they wish or at home rather than be bothered by the imposition of rehearsing when the playwright and director call rehearsals.
What the current cast does not grasp is that they have lost both the inspiration and the ability to perform the musical with a devotion to the author’s story. This particular rendition is rather fragmented and clunky, lacking in flow and rhythm. Things are falling apart. Rather than refine and restage the story as previous iterations of the cast, they have extracted difficult sections. The flow and beauty of the playwright’s original script is disconnected, detached. We, as the real live cast of this story must decide what to do, how to respond to our own mess.
How Will We Respond?
First, as Christians in a musical story since creation, we must repent of our arrogance, refusing to acknowledge and give thanks for the previous generations of actors that have been faithful in retelling the story. We must see ourselves as conduits and participants in a message that is outside ourselves and bigger than ourselves. We must see the value of our small part in the story that is being told, see it in context. If we do not perform well, how will the next cast stand on our shoulders? But in order for all this to happen, we must know how to meet the bar already set for us and raise it.
Second, we must realize that this is, afterall, a musical and it calls for a lot of singing. God rejoices over his creation and the story that he’s telling with song. Zephaniah 3:17 says that he “joyfully sings over us,” his actors, in the midst of this musical drama. Not only that, but he has made us as his image bearers and given us the tools to sing in similar joyful ways. This is no small task and requires much work. This means that all of us should be trained in music to some degree so that we can more fully participate in the musical roles that God has for us. At the very least, we are called to be part of the chorus ensemble numbers on Sundays, and see to the training of the next generation of actors as well. We should be able to sing and dance in such a way that points to the Master playwright, the Triune God, and He is no amateur.
Third, our unity as a cast, as a body, depends upon our rehearsal together. The culmination of knowing, rehearsing, and fellowshipping in the author’s words makes that possible. If you’re like me, it always seemed a bit funny when the dialogue in a musical would suddenly break into spontaneous song and dance, until I realized that the song and dance was only spontaneous to me as a member of the audience looking on. The world now is our audience. The only way to be a unit, the only way to not step on your neighbors toes, the only way to jump from dialogue to song is to practice together. The music must be so familiar that the singing happens naturally, simply an overflow of our hearts.
The comparison of our life to a musical should cause us to review the musical language that is present in the scriptures from cover to cover with a mind to take back up our callings as singers. Consider the songs of Miriam, Deborah, David, the Psalms, Zechariah, Mary, the Angels at Jesus’ birth, the songs of Paul and Silas, and even the songs of those surrounding the throne in the book of Revelation. Think about how the joy we have been given through salvation in Jesus Christ demands far more than systematic responses of faith and affirmation written down on paper only. Our joy and thankfulness should spring into song and dance.
Jarrod Richey currently lives in Monroe, Louisiana with his lovely wife Sarah and their five children. He is both the Director of Choral Activities and Pre-K4 through 12th grade music teacher at Geneva Academy. In addition to this, he has been on staff at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church since 2005 handling both church media and choral music responsibilities. Jarrod has recently founded Jubilate Deo Summer Music Camp in Monroe, LA that seeks to train joyful worshippers and young singers. For more information on the camp visit, www.jubilatedeo.org. He is also featured in an upcoming Music Education Discussion titled, “Recovering Music Education in Christian Education” from Roman Roads Media.