Sing God’s Word
The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:15,16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (ESV)
Singing Christ’s Word is an effective and joyful way of teaching, learning, and passing on the Christian faith. When God joins his Word to music through singing, he does extraordinary things, especially in families. His Word lives in them richly! A melody helps us to remember any work of prose or poetry even better. Children especially soak up words sung. Just think of “Let it go” from the film Frozen. A memorable song, but with dubious words. Singing is powerful, for good and evil. In the 3rd and 4th Century AD, the heretic pastor Arius spread false teaching that denied Christ’s divinity using songs. It was so successful, that his false teaching became very popular in the 4th Century church, even after the council of Nicea which officially settled the matter.
Singing God’s Word makes us breath it in and out more deeply. It sinks into our very being through our lungs, and then far out into those around us. That’s why some governments have been so concerned about “communal singing” spreading the coronavirus. Singing can be dangerous. It can change lives, families, the church, and the world!
Name a Christian hymn or song from your childhood and share why it is important to you.
Sing God’s Word richly in the family
We believe it’s no accident that St Paul gives encouragement to sing God’s Word in Colossians just before giving instructions about relationships in the Christian family a few verses later.
Read Colossians 3:18 – 4:6
Why would St Paul connect singing God’s Word with family life?
Life is full of joys and troubles, “highs and lows”, privileges and responsibilities, and especially in families. Family life can be a bed of roses, including their thorns.
How do you think the Christian family is faring today, what are the difficulties they face?
What are the unique gifts given to Christian families?
The family, especially in the post-Christian western world, is in decline and under attack. So, what’s new? Families have always been in trouble. Just read what happened in Adam and Eve’s family in chapters 3 and 4 of Genesis. The Old and New Testaments are filled with the stories of families in trouble, yet God includes them in his story.
Paul was speaking to families with real troubles. Wives were often considered property, children a burden and dispensable, and fathers were expected to be harsh and keep their house in line. But God does not dispense with the family, even though they’re often in a mess. Instead, he redeems the family, giving it new life through his Word.
How can we encourage and strengthen families experiencing tension, trouble, and attack? By singing his Word together. We contend that the most important place (but certainly not the only place) for God’s Word to grow is in the home, and we encourage families to sing God’s Word with gusto! With the Christmas season approaching it’s a great time to start!
God’s Word comes in the flesh and singing results
Jesus has not only redeemed Christians, He has also redeemed the family. Most of what we know of Jesus’ conception, birth, and childhood years, including his family life is in the first two chapters of Luke. They contain four songs we regularly sing in worship. Over this Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, from December to January, we’ll be singing them more so.
They are Mary’s Song (The Magnificat) (Luke 1:46–55); The Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:68–79); The Angels’ Christmas Song (Luke 2:14); and The Song of Simeon (Luke 2:29–32). Even though our English Bible translations write that, “Mary said”, Zechariah “prophesied”, the angels were “saying”, and Simeon “said”, the words they were “uttering” were sung. Simply put, in Greek “saying” can also mean “singing”.
Mary does not sing “The Magnificat” immediately after hearing the news that she was pregnant with God’s Son. Instead she sings it after she visits her distant cousin Elizabeth.
Read Luke 1:39–56. Why might that be?
She has good news to share with others. By her singing her song of praise, she magnifies the joy within her, and it spills out to Elizabeth and to us. True praise of God is not directed to him but to others. God is good and wants our joy directed to others in need of his joy, rather than for himself.
Imagine what singing songs of praise in a family could do. Singing is a healthy response to significant life events. Not just in celebration and thanksgiving but also for mourning. Don’t forget to sing as a family when you’re depressed, alone, or in trouble. If you need help, open the book of Psalms to sing with other mourners and the depressed. More on that in January’s Bible study.
Anxiety and fear plague our society. Some of it understandable, but even more of it is quite unreasonable and unhealthy. One of the most common messages from God is “Do not be afraid”. We’ll hear these words again this Christmas. It’s a message from heaven delivered to fearful shepherds during another cold night on earth. To cement the message in the shepherds’ minds, God’s angels sing:
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Luke 2:14)
What happens after the angels sing? Read Luke 2:15–20
What effect does this heavenly song have on the shepherds?
Because of their singing the shepherds meet the Holy Family! God’s presence, his glory, is found in the most ordinary of families. A vulnerable, young family in trouble, far away from home, surrounded by hay and animal droppings.
On Christmas Day we will hear these beautiful words from St John:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14).
On the first Christmas Day, God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Where did we hear the word “dwell” before? Read Colossians 3:15,16 again.
When we sing God’s Word, especially together, it’s Christmas again! Through his Word God comes into our flesh and dwells within us richly! He also gives us everything he promises in his Word.
Prayer (maybe pray it richly by singing it)
O Lord, we come before Thy face:
In every home bestow Thy grace
On children, father, mother;
Relieve their wants, their burdens ease,
Let them together dwell in peace,
And truly love each other.