My kids liked the Pixar movie Inside Out.
I loved it.
It was a genius and very entertaining idea to take our complicated emotions, inner thoughts, and memories from the human experience and turn it into a riveting movie that we could all identify with, through laughter or tears.
The core memories were the coolest thing about that movie. Those were the memories that shaped the essence of who the main character, Riley, was.
As a guy who has made a career out of making music, many of my core memories involve music. As a youngster, I vividly remember my six other siblings and I singing in what seemed like 7-part harmony while piled in our station wagon on the way to Grandpa’s.
In my first job, as a teenager, I remember the satisfaction of getting back into the work truck and driving away after one particularly long and strenuous day of physical labor and jamming to the music from the local rock station while drinking an ice-cold can of Coca-Cola that the customer rewarded to us for our efforts.
As a musician at our church, I remember making music with some phenomenal musicians who have since passed away and I have very vivid memories of specific times during our worship services where I couldn’t help but turn around and share a moment of joy with them, affirming their skillful playing. And now that those musicians are gone, the memories are all I have.
For many of us, musician or not, music is a sharp tool. It cuts. It pierces. It etches so as to leave a permanent mark like the memories I have, and maybe you have them too.
If you’ve ever wondered why people sing at church, that’s why. Songs that we sing together at church help us remember who God is, who we are, and what God has done for us. Sometimes the lyrics pierce our souls. Sometimes they just give us simple words to say to God, “I love you!” But in my 20+ years as a musician, the songs that people embrace consistently are the songs that they remember because they gave comfort and hope in hard times.
Never did this seem so universal than during this COVID-19 pandemic. Our sense of safety and security, income, and independence was flipped upside down. Social media was abuzz with links to songs that gave people comfort and hope. At CCC, people took the time to email me personally to tell me how much of an impact the music from our online services had on them. We were singing songs that reminded us all that God is bigger than any fear or anxiety we had. We were singing songs that reminded us that death isn’t the end for the follower of Jesus. Now, when those people hear those songs in the future, they will be reminded of this time of life… full of uncertainty and fear but also memories of how God brought them through that uncertainty and gave them the tools to battle the future tough times.
The Bible has some encouragement for us in this area, especially right now if certainty and hope is missing in your life. Philippians 4:6-7 states: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (The Message version)
It describes a method of dealing with uncertainty and anxiety that actually describes what we do at church when we sing songs. The words (praises, prayers, and concerns) we sing to God help us remember who he is and that he desires to calm our anxious thoughts and give us peace.
Music affects our souls in ways that nothing else is able. And it’s why, when times like this hit, music reminding us about God can be of great comfort to us. It’s my hope that you sense God’s peace and that you can start a lifetime of memories of him bringing you through tough times.
Written by Jim Bossler, CCC Worship Ministry Director