Music That Makes Community

Music that Makes CommunityWhoah! Last week I attended a conference, Music That Makes Community, at St. Peter’s Church, and my mind was blown.

Let me explain: Until last Thursday, November 13th, I believed in my heart of hearts that I was a pastor and a preacher, NOT a musician or a song leader.

Music That Makes Community challenged these distinctions and challenged me to consider the possibility that I might ALSO be a musician and song leader… The leaders and practitioners of MMC believe that we ALL have competencies as yet undiscovered… as musicians, song leaders, liturgists.

According to their core values, “In order to connect in a real, honest way, we must be vulnerable to one another. We take risks in our leadership, and when we choose the wrong pitch or our voices crack or a song doesn’t work, we model forgiveness. We live into the dissonance and consider it all part of the holy work of coming together in song, in worship, in our life as the body of Christ.”

It was a revelation. I do not have to have perfect pitch or dulcet tones. I only need the desire to meet God and meet community in the sharing of music. That’s it. Really. There are tricks to using your hands to guide the community. There are songs already written that can be taught and sung. But you can just as easily make up a melody to match a phrase that desires to be heard in worship. As that ubiquitious shoe campaign says, Just Do It.

In full disclosure, I lost my nerve when it was time to improvise. I made all kinds of excuses. I just couldn’t pull both words and music out of my brain at the same time. Until… I came home to my kids and realized that ALL we do is improvise song at home. We almost exlusively use silly, sing-songy voices as running commentary for whatever we’re doing. Eating dinner, brushing teeth, using the bathroom one more time before bed. All of that information conveyed in song.

It was a missed opportunity. And I hope that I won’t miss it again.

As proof of my conversion, I offer you MY song. It is my melody, such as it is, formed to match a phrase chosen from a list of phrases. Listen if you need COURAGE. Because, my pitch ain’t great and my voice cracks like a hard-boiled egg on a marble countertop. But I did it. And the Spirit was present in that place, and it was some of the purest worship I’ve encountered in a very long time.

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About RevMcC

I am a pastor, licensed social worker, consultant and workshop leader. I live in Brooklyn, NY, (the greatest place ever) with my husband and two children (the greatest people ever). I am an unqualified extrovert and lover of God. I try to live my life with gratitude, wonder, curiosity and attention.
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3 Responses to Music That Makes Community

  1. Jacob Slichter says:

    Thank you, Sarah, for your generous presence at MMC and this beautiful reflection. Looking forward to hearing more of your songs!

  2. Andrea Dedmon says:

    Thanks for this great post, Sarah! I showed up at the MMC conference really doubting why I had come at all. It was so reassuring to see you and others express your doubts. BTW I improvise songs all the time when I am home with my cat. AND I spontaneously taught “Come light of lights” to the adult Christian ed forum on Sunday as part of the discussion of Advent practices. I was totally out of tune, but they got it, and even sang as a round! Cool!

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