Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…
In the Western world, many still practice this old Victorian superstition/tradition on their wedding day as a way to hand off good will from one generation to another, honor loved ones, and express hope and optimism for the future bride and groom.
These traditional gifts have no lasting impact on the success of the future marriage. Instead, the health and life of the marriage depends primarily on the bride and groom’s attitude toward loving one another.
A dear friend, Shirley, recently encountered some serious health issues. During a text conversation with her husband of more than 50 years, I empathized with how exhausted I assumed Jerry felt, but his response gave me pause.
“You know,” he wrote, “I don’t really feel exhausted. I am energized in serving Shirley. I don’t like that she is sick but it is my pleasure to serve a wife that has served me for so many years...”
While I’m assuming Shirley has not been perfect every day of their married life, she has made a practice of loving Jerry without caution, which in turn spurred him to love and serve her. Here's a moment of vulnerability - I have struggled at times to only love my husband cautiously, typically due to fear or selfishness. In our early days of marriage, I cautiously loved him out of self-protection wondering if he was anything like the abuser from my past (NEWS FLASH – he wasn’t/isn’t). At times now, I cautiously love him out of selfishness, thinking that if I love him extravagantly he may ask something of me that I don’t want to give. The problem with loving him cautiously is that I don’t want a cautious, mediocre marriage; I want a marriage that oozes “amazing”, and that comes from loving one another extravagantly.
The first few verses of Ephesians 5 address how Jesus loves, which is the ultimate example of how we should love - not only our spouse, but everyone, especially the Church, another relationship in which we are called to be united as one.
"Watch what God does, and then you do it... Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that." Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message, paraphrase)
Worship is a necessity in our union with Christ, but how we worship has a great deal of flexibility and can deeply impact the unity of the Church. Much like the traditional gifts at a wedding, music is a traditional gift that helps elevate the event, in this case "worship". But the music itself is not the deciding factor for the success of our union to Christ or as the Church. Instead, our attitude toward worship and loving one another is the ultimate deciding factor. Instrumentation, lyrics, volume, energy - all fall in the line of preference, and because we are a beautifully diverse body of Christ, our preferences in regards to worshipping through song will likely differ greatly. Differentiating preferences go way beyond music, yet those differences may actually be the catalyst to creating and even tighter bond of unity when we choose to throw cautious love aside.
To love cautiously within the body may mean, much like my struggles in marriage, that we have an underlying fear of getting hurt or lack of trust. Maybe selfishness is impeding us - what if other church members want something from me that I don't want to give, or what if I always have to give in to their preferences and never get my own?
To love extravagantly requires acts of vulnerability and forgoing our preferences for the sake of others, and, just like in Jerry and Shirley's marriage, our extravagant love may just spur others to love us extravagantly in return or spur them to love others with the same extravagance. In an environment of mutual, extravagant love - fear dissipates. This type of love is contagious!
I want to sing songs of old, songs of new, fast songs, slow songs, whatever songs I can sing with you. Sharing songs for the sake of enhancing one another's worship experience, along with the power of the Holy Spirit, can bring an unbreakable unity within the Church that oozes "amazing".
Additional Reading: For more ideas regarding music that allows room for unity instead of an "us" vs. "them" mentality - "Writing Music for a Multi-Generational Church" by Gabrielle Green
Featured Image Credit: Pop & Zebra