On Monday and Tuesday of this week I had the privilege of attending the Self Preaching Lectures at my seminary in Atlanta – McAfee School of Theology. This lecture series is named after Dr. William Self, long-time pastor in Atlanta. Each year, a leading theologian and preacher is invited to deliver these lectures and over the past few years, I have heard a variety of excellent preachers/teachers.
This year, the speaker was Dr. Bill Leonard – one of my former professors, but more importantly a long-time family friend. He is the founding Dean of Wake Forest School of Divinity and is recognized as a leading church historian. It was from that background that he spoke of preaching in the Appalachian tradition.
I would like to share with you a quote that has stuck with me from one of his lectures. “Theology you can’t sing, isn’t much theology at all.” What did he mean? Each week as we gather in worship, we sing together – hymns and praise songs. It is possible to stand and never open your mouth, to mumble along with words, or to sing with gusto. Each week as I look out into the congregation, I see all three!
We spend a great deal of time in worship, reading our Bibles and listening to sermons, with the hope that they will shed a new light on God’s word. But, have you ever considered that when we sing together, we are singing our faith, singing our theology? From the simple “Jesus loves me, this I know,” to “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” AMEN!
As we sing together each week, my prayer is that we will all be conscious of the words and the amazing theology that flows from them. Thanks be to God!