One of the many reasons I love the sound of a choir is that it is the voices of many producing one piece of music. Most choral pieces consist of different voice parts, all blending in one song. Some may sing quieter and some louder (whether the piece requires that or not), but all are invited to join into one song, be it a hymn, a choir anthem, an oratorio movement, or something else.
The church should be similar – all are invited to bring their own selves, fully as they are, everyone wel- come. We see it on many church signs and brochures, including our own – “All are welcome.” We say that everyone is invited to fully join our song, and yet there are so many who do not feel welcome to show up as their full authentic selves. Psalm 139 proclaims that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, and yet some of us are afraid to show that wonderfully God-made self in the church. One of the communities often unwelcomed in the church is the LGBTQIA community, based on decades of many churches preaching the unwelcoming message telling them the way they were created (fearfully, wonderfully, God-made) was wrong – a message based on an incorrect translation and inter- pretation that still pervades to this day. They have not been invited into the song of the church, the body of Christ, the fold of God. I so often hear complaints that “young people have left the church,” but it seems to me that the church made them leave by not letting them join our song, by telling them the way they had been created wasn’t welcome.
So for the month of June, we will literally sing them back in. With a hymnal provided by the Hymn Society, called “Songs For the Holy Other” (reminding us how often we have “othered” those in the LGBTQIA community), we will close each worship with a hymn that celebrates the way that God created them, lament the way the world and especially the church may have treated them, and proclaim that we are all one beautiful, diverse Body of Christ. Additionally, our offertory anthems will focus on a similar message – if you are interested in being a part of the choir (we will record in advance, distanced and masked), let me know, we will accept every voice! As we near the time to be able to physically sing in church again, I hope in June and going forward, you will raise your voice to physically and spiritually sing EVERYONE into the fold of God, who has loved and created every single one of us – wonderfully and beautifully made.