Exodus is such a rich book. Having gone through years of bondage, the Israelites have had enough. God’s escape plan has not been going fast enough. The Plagues have come. Now it is Pharaoh who has had enough. God gave directions for Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread was completed. Moses and the gang have marched through the Red Sea, and the pursuers have been drowned – “So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”
Today we see what happens next. The people burst into song. The Song of Moses, which recounts the events of the previous chapter, is beautiful. The narration is not meant to be a sequential understanding, but is rich in poetic verse, parallelism, and appears to be quite ancient. It is indeed a song!
As a church musician, and now a pastor, I am always intrigued by the process of singing. No other instrument is so exposing and personal. I am aware there are some who don’t feel they are good at it, so they stand there smugly in worship, arms folded, and wait for it to be done. What a sad state of affairs! This is no concert! This is all of us joining in praise to the one who saved us – in this case saved us from bondage, delivered us from the hands of the Egyptians, saved us from the Red Sea, and then delivered us from death by God’s Son, Jesus Christ. How can we not share some sort of excitement about that?
Now I understand not everyone is Julie Andrews, and when they get happy they don’t feel like spinning on top of a mountain, singing their hearts out, and acting like a crazy person. I know. I understand. But I have a confession: I am not a singer either. I do it because I cannot help myself. And I am not the greatest singer. But God has awakened in me a sense of joy that cannot be contained, and I am thankful for that. So I make a joyful NOISE. And you all have to put up with it.
As the Song of Moses recounted his plight, I also realized that song can be a record of theology, the highlights of the community and what they meant. In that sense, our hymnal, and WHAT we sing, is a reflection of our theology – our beliefs about God and how we interact with God.
When I get in my car, the “burnt out musician” in me comes out. I don’t listen to music anymore. It is actually quite sad. NPR….NPR….NPR. That is about it. But to those of you that do listen to music, what does that say to you? How does it impact your daily thoughts? Might it also shape your beliefs about others? You? God?
My prayer is that when you get to church on Sunday, you will let go of those inhibitions. Sing your heart out! Show joy and praise to all the world! Give back to God that “dancing on a mountain top like a crazy person” kind of singing. Who knows, it may open up a new path of thanksgiving and praise in you you have never known.