One of my very first memories is my dad lifting me up so I could see over the balcony of our American apartment in Frankfurt, Germany, and hear the carolers in the courtyard below, singing German carols. (It’s still not Christmas until I hear some German carols reminding me of my earliest Christmas memories.)
I grew up with singing parents, and in a singing church. Singing in a group has been a part of my life, continually, since I was born.
Several years ago, some “musical friends” had a large “music” party filled with all sorts of food and drink that had no nutritional value in the least and friends, old and young, just getting together to sing some hymns. At the door we were handed a customized bound book of hymns and psalms (and “spiritual songs”). The guests were, for the most part, singers by profession. All night we ate, drank, laughed, chattered, and sang…it was a taste of my own personal heaven. As I sat and looked at and listened to the variety of singles, couples, and groups, all ages, all types, I smiled and listened as everyone sang along. Some songs were familiar, others were not…and no one cared. It was a great evening!
I was especially taken with the thought that we all were singing the same song, but not all were singing the same notes, some were singing the same words, but maybe not at the same time as everyone else…on purpose, or not. Some were singing the melody, and at one point we sang a duet, and the treble voices sang one part, and the lower voices the other. It was beautiful and the differences in voice, range, dynamic and polyphony (singing various moving lines of music simultaneously) still created a unified thought and the sense that ALL of us were “journeying” together to the same conclusion, along the same theme, but at different paths.
The phrase, “many paths to God” is one that Christians have avoided because it seemingly conflicts with Jesus own words, “I am THE way, THE Truth and THE life…no one comes to the Father except through Me.” I don’t think the “many paths” idea conflicts with Jesus at all…I may be “splitting hairs”, but I believe that Jesus is stating there is ONE DOOR…but it is also obvious to me, in the scripture and in life, that each of us comes to that door through a variety of ways. It also seems evident, by virtue of the scripture, that each of us feels, sees, hears, and experiences things in a different way. Our journeys of faith have different beginnings, but the same end, have different twists and turns, but the same arrival point, have different tempos of transport, but the same destination.
I don’t believe that God wants us all to sing in unison, because we couldn’t…we are all as different as Soprano is from Alto, and Tenor is from Bass. Jesus has a song written specifically for each of us. Also, the scripture reminds us, there are “a variety of gifts, but One Spirit”. We also have differences built into us, and we begin our journeys at different times. Our perspectives of God are different depending on what He has done for and to each of us, and where we are in our maturity as Spiritual beings. We couldn’t and shouldn’t sing in unison. It is not the church’s job to make its congregation “toe the party line”, but to know the breadth and depth of the love of the Father…nurturing the Spirit in each person to “lead into all Truth.”
We are made to sing the song together…but without the beauty of our individual voices and parts the song would not be so rich, so full, so moving…it is the combination of ALL our “journeys to Jesus” that makes the voyage so wonderful…and the destination cadence so breath-taking.
We were created to sing in HARMONY.