where the music belongs

The Stonebriar Children’s Choir teamed up with Missional Living to host a Mother’s Day party and present the Gospel to the residents of The Samaritan Inn. Pastor Owen reflects on the experience.

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The soprano section of the Children’s Choir hits and holds their high harmony. The familiar melody crescendos under them. It’s the kind of soaring arrangement of the classic hymn, “Just As I Am”, that would blend and reverberate beautifully off the walls and vaulted ceilings of a cathedral. But this music isn’t destined to echo back on itself. Today, the voices of the children spin across the grass and spill into the warm spring air as they sing:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Your blood was shed for me

The scene is surreal. Two-hundred voices of the Stonebriar Children’s Choir sing their sacred song on the concrete basketball court of a homeless shelter in McKinney. The music is so heavenly. The setting couldn’t be more raw, real, and earthy.

Members of the Stonebriar event team set up a booth where children can create a Mother's Day gift.
Members of the Stonebriar event team set up a booth where children can create a Mother’s Day gift.

“Was this a good idea?”

This event made sense on paper. The choir would bring their music out here to The Samaritan Inn to bless the residents of this homeless shelter and share the Gospel with them. We would serve lunch and throw a party on the lawn—a perfect way to reach out to some people who are getting their feet back under them. Why not?

But now the plan isn’t theoretical—it’s happening for real. The sound system has been assembled. The games have been set up. Lunch is cooking. The children lift their voices from the basketball court.

Places where dirt jams under fingernails. Where regret squeezes the chest. Where life stays close to the bone and on the edge. Where children go hungry. Where love comes with strings. Where good news is scarce. Jesus is at home in places like this.

Truth be told, I feel some discomfort at the contrast between the choir and their audience. The fresh-faced musicians project a pure, somber energy. The audience sits with shoulders stooped and bodies worn by heavy burdens and hard living. I find myself wondering, “Was this a good idea?”

Then, music swells again. The well-known hymn takes a contemporary turn as 200 children’s voices sing:

Sam Inn Concert-01473
The Stonebriar Children’s choir warms up for their performance.

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled

That’s when it hits me: While I might feel a bit awkward here, Jesus does not. He and his invitation to drink the living water are very much at home in places like this.

Places where dirt jams under fingernails. Where regret squeezes the chest. Where life stays close to the bone and on the edge. Where children go hungry. Where love comes with strings. Where good news is scarce.

where his music belongs

Jesus loves this place. This is where His music belongs. We should not always confine it inside the walls and vaulted ceilings of a church building. His music should roam free—unleashed to stir the kind of longing in lost hearts that only truth and beauty can.

The Gospel is not just for those of us who have found shelter beneath the cross. It is also for those who live in the open air, exposed to the unforgiving elements of life in a broken world.

So, at first I squint at the choir and the high, pure notes they sing. But then, as I think about the kind of Savior we serve, my squint turns to a smile and a prayer:  “God, sweep Your music across the green grass, through the ears and into the hearts of those who listen.”

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Owen Wildman is Pastor of Missional Living at Stonebriar Community Church. Stay up-to-date with the latest from Missional Living on Facebook.

One thought on “where the music belongs

  1. This is just how the members of Stonebriar’s outreach choir feel! Celebration Singers almost never gives a concert at church, but are on the go to Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission, rehab hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living centers around the Metroplex. Yes, Jesus does belong there and so do we!

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