Life + Culture

Unashamed to Sing

Unashamed to Sing

I was born a Cubs fan. I purchased baseball cards and filled my mind with player names and statistics while I filled my mouth with terrible baseball card chewing gum. That gum lasted about 90 seconds, but my love for my team endures today.

My passionate enthusiasm for the Cubs has led me to embrace traditions that would not normally be my style.

At the end of every victory, the home stadium, Wrigley Field, is filled with the Steve Goodwin’s song, “Go Cubs, Go.” You can literally hear it being sung from a mile away. By every objective sense, speaking as a songwriter, it is one of the most inane songs ever written. Here’s the line that appears in both the verse and the chorus:

Hey, Chicago, what do you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!

The melody does not improve the lyrics.

But if you find a hint of ridicule in this description, you couldn’t be more wrong. Again, my enthusiasm for my team endears me to traditions I might otherwise laugh at or reject.

If you think about it, it says something fairly extraordinary about the Cubs, as a baseball team and an organization, that its fans gladly show their love for their team in such unabashed ways. It’s compelling to listen to tens of thousands of people singing this somewhat silly song at the top of their lungs. Elderly fans sing with children, and wealthy fans in luxury suites sing with working class “bleacher bums” — all united in the euphoria of victory.

Bums in the Pews

Now, imagine someone after a Cub’s victory turning to his neighbor and saying, “This song is corny and old-fashioned. It’s not my style.” A thoughtful neighbor would respond, “You’re missing the point. Our team just won!”

Perhaps that disconnect between the victory and its celebration is at the heart of some of the squabbles over preferences in our worship services.

Consider the unusual pressure that we place upon our church services to meet our own preferences. It is a tragedy whenever our aesthetic preferences rob us of participating in and enjoying corporate worship. It is tragic because it misses the point of corporate worship.

  • We should not evaluate a worship service like we evaluate a concert hall recital. These performances are evaluated for their rhythmic accuracy, perfection of pitch, and attention to historical nuance.

  • We also should not evaluate a worship service like a rock concert. These shows have goals of jaw-dropping spectacle, daring stage antics, and sharing the same experience with a thousand other people of the same demographic.

Christian worship services have always had other goals. The earliest disciples gathered together on the first Sunday morning with the breathless exuberance of eyewitnesses. They came together to bear witness that Jesus Christ accomplished the greatest victory in history. He had risen from the grave, they had seen it, and they gathered to celebrate that victory and contemplate its implications.

All the Church, Around the Throne

It says something even more commendable about Christ’s church that believers show their love for their Savior in unabashed ways. It is compelling to listen to small churches with a dozen people, or large churches with tens of thousands of people, singing the song of the Lamb at the top of their lungs. Elderly believers singing with children, and rich businessmen and working class “bleacher bums” — all united in praise on a Sunday morning.

Such unapologetic unity points to the coming Final Day. The modest measures of unity-in-diversity in our services — O God, give us more! — is just a foretaste to the tremendous unity-in-diversity that awaits believers. Then, one day, around the throne, all believers will gather together. Believers from different eras, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds will gather to celebrate the finalized victory of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sound will echo for miles and miles, and for centuries and centuries.

What style of music will that be? One thing is sure: None of us will be disappointed. On that day, we will fly the winning banner, play our song, and shamelessly sing at the top of our lungs.

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