Pastoral Perspectives


We began the year by emphasizing on the Church as a Community. Last week, we heard how we can be a Community of God’s Beloved. Today, we would have heard how to become a Community of Worshippers. Next week, we will hear how we can be a Community of Builders.

What is a community? According to Wikipedia, “ a community is a small or large social unit (a group of living things) who have something in common, such as norms, religion, values, or identity.” To Rick Warren, “community is a modern term for an ancient word – fellowship. The Greek word for fellowship in the Bible is the word koinonia. And koinonia means being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ.” According to A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature the word koinonia as found in Acts 2:42 means a close association involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, fellowship, close relationship.

A community is like an orchestra or a choir that comes together to play and sing. Before a symphony orchestra starts playing, an oboist will play a certain pitch and all other instruments tune to that particular pitch. There is a reason why an oboe is chosen to give the deciding pitch. The sound of the oboe is bright, easy to hear, and its pitch more stable than most instruments. Some instruments need more time to tune because they need to ensure that the layering of perfect intervals is clear and not out of tune. Once the instruments are tuned section by section, it is ready to play the music.

A few days ago, I attended 35th Anniversary of School of Church Music, Singapore Bible College. We gathered to have a meal and then proceeded to rehearse our anthems. Many alumni returned and it was such a wonderful experience to be singing in a choir again. As with most instruments, we all needed to tune our voices. Mind you, many voice majors (divas) were present and our conductor had to remind us all to listen to one another and sing according to the instruction given in the score.  A typical choir will have four sections viz., soprano, alto, tenor and bass. In each section, there are bright voices, mellow voices and dark voices. We all had to learn to watch the conductor’s hand, listen to one another and adjust our volume in order to produce the best sound. There were moments when he praised the soft section and allowed for moments of loud singing. At the end of one hour, it was heavenly. The words of the anthem were taken from the famous hymn “When in Our Music God is Glorified” written by Fred Pratt Green*.

As I reflected on the lyrics and instructions from the conductor, the meaning of the song came alive even as I was singing the song. Last week Ps Kien Seng talked about glorifying God. How can we glorify God as a community?

Just as music is best produced when we are tuned correctly to the master pitch under the direction of the master, our lives can best glorify Him when we tune ourselves to His voice and do as He commands us to. In an orchestra or choir, there are all kinds of sounds. It is only in the context of each other that we will know if we are too loud, too soft, too sharp, too flat, too early or too late. As a community of believers, we need each other to grow. It is in the context of a community that the fruit of the spirit is also borne. In our rehearsals, we have often discovered new dimensions in the world of sound. As a church, we will always meet new people, new ministries and new perspectives. Our differences can be employed to worship God because the focus is not on us but on the Lord who is directing.

Interestingly, the human ear is designed in such a way that it helps to maintain and balance our body equilibrium. Abnormalities in the inner ear can result in diseases like vertigo and tinnitus. Spiritually speaking, if our ears are not working well, it can prevent us from hearing the master’s voice which will result in discord. An instrument or a voice out of tune is a result of something deeper inside. If we are not hearing well, we will not produce good sounds.

May we keep our ears tuned to our one Lord and master so that our obedience to his leading will bring glory and honor unto the Lord.

*When in our music God is glorified,
And adoration leaves no room for pride,
It is as though the whole creation cried,

Let every instrument be tuned for praise!
Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!
And may God give us faith to sing always:
Hallelujah! Amen.
(verse 1 & 5)

Pr Loliro Sani

January 14, 2018