Thursday, 20 June 2019

Like singing, life is better when we do things together

“I DON’T have to go to church to be a Christian” is a statement which you might hear from time to time, especially from those who consider themselves to be Christian but who don’t want to be regular church goers.

They are quite right: to be a Christian is to believe in God the Father, the creator, God the Son who lived among us, died for us and rose again, and God the Holy Spirit, who enables and sustains us in our daily life and journey of faith.

To be a Christian is to believe in Jesus and it is not about going to church. So why bother?

Over the last few weeks I have been watching on the television the Young Choir of the Year competition. What has struck me is not just how wonderfully talented our young people are, but what some of the competitors said they get out of being part of a choir.

One young person told her interviewer that she did not enjoy school, was stressed, had few friends and felt isolated, but all that changed when she started singing in the choir; there she felt that she belonged and was part of something special and valued. It was a place where people of very different backgrounds and circumstances had something in common which they could share and enjoy. Her life improved and happiness replaced the stress.

You may remember Gareth Malone’s Military Wives Choir, not just for the beautiful song Wherever You Are, which they sang at the Festival of Remembrance, but for the unity, support and encouragement that singing together, week in week out, brought to those wives while their husbands served overseas.

Just two examples (through the medium of singing) that brought people together, to learn from each other, to support one another, not just during rehearsals, but in the rest of the week.

The choir enabled friendships to develop when and where they might not otherwise have done.

Christians go to church to learn more of God’s love and learn from the experience of others, to find friendship in a place where they might not otherwise have done, to meet people who support and encourage them and where, I trust, they can support and encourage others.

A place where all are different and might on occasion disagree with each other, but a place where they will be united in that love of God and the love and support of each other.

A place where we can sing together in worship (but not perhaps to the standard of those choirs), a place where we can pray together and energise each other for the week ahead.

We are told that loneliness and isolation across the generations is a growing problem, that 16.4 million people live alone in this country.

When we find and follow a way to meet together to pursue a common interest, be it a religious belief, playing a sport, following a favourite football team, or sharing a particular hobby, it is then that we find and sustain friendships, receive and give support and are valued — but we must do it together.

We don’t have to go to church to be a Christian but when we do, our life and Christian experience will be changed for the better.

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