Sermon Series: SAD – Spiritual Affective Disorder
Title: The Power of Music
Psalm 40:1-3, Psalm 100
January 13, 2019
Rev. Sandy Johnson
First, I’d like to let you know that I’ve changed the title of this sermon. What you are about to hear is entitled, The Power of Music. Not that it matters at all, but I figured I should share that before we begin.
Music is one of the most powerful influences on our lives. It affects our moods, affects healing, it improves our ability to retain information, and we perform better on tests when listening to music. The marketing industry uses music to increase sales – they have discovered how powerful music is. When they are trying to sell cars, they put upbeat rock and roll music on to inspire us to drive fast. Unless of course they are selling high-end luxury model sedans, then classical music is played in the background which connects more with the highly intelligent, richer folks in society.
Restaurants like Applebee’s play fast paced music so you eat quicker and they can turn the tables faster. Department stores play slow melodious music to reduce tension anxiety which slows us down, improves our mood and causes us to walk slower. Walking slowly through the department store is exactly what they hope for.
What about the Mozart Effect, have you heard of this? “Students who listen to Mozart while studying have an increased ability to retain the information because music stimulates the part of the brain that has to do with memory. Different types of music have different types of effects. Studies have shown that those who listen to or play classical music tend to excel, while those listening to country, rock and R&B only improve performance slightly, whereas those who listen to rap, and heavy metal actually perform lower than average.”
There is music all around us. We hear music on “television, at the grocery store, eating at our favorite restaurant, driving down the road; at one time or another we are all exposed to music.” Music makes us feel good, can be used as therapy, and for some it is an emotional outlet. It can also have a negative effect on us too. Last week I shared with you that when I was younger, I suffered with depression. When I was in college, I was obsessed with the movie The Rose. Do you remember that one?
It was a story of the tragic life of a self-destructive female rock star who struggled with the constant pressures of her career and the ruthless demands of her business manager. She ultimately kills herself in a dramatic conclusion to the movie. Bette Midler starred, and the soundtrack was phenomenal. Unfortunately for me it connected me to the tragedy of the story every time I listened to it and sang along. When a friend of mine committed suicide around the same time, his death is forever linked with those songs. They kept me drowning in my own self-destructive thoughts. Music was powerful but in a very negative manner.
Years later I had to change the type of music I listened to. Too many memories of difficult times led me to discover Christian music. I was able to change the music I listened to and avoid the emotional triggers of the music in the 1970’s. Have you ever noticed how music connects us to times and places from our past? Think of a song from your early adulthood. Did you have a favorite one? Maybe it’s your “theme” song, or your wedding song. Anyone want to share a favorite?
Let’s see how music can affect our own mood or memories. Let’s sing together the first verse of Amazing Grace. While you sing see if you are reminded of another time and place.
Miriam – Play Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace, UMH 378 (Assurance)
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
What memories or emotions came up for you?
How about this one? Let’s sing together How Great Thou Art.
Miriam: play How Great Thou Art, 77
How Great Thou Art, UMH #77 (Praise & Thanksgiving)
O Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
Then sings my soul My Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art
Then sings my soul My Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art
Were you take back to another time and place? What emotions came up for you while you were singing? Joy? Peace? Gratitude?
Scripture teaches us that music was also important to our ancestors. Music is first referenced in Genesis 4:21. “Jubal was the fourth generation from Adam through Cain and is recorded as “the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Other early references to music include Exodus 15, which records Moses and the Israelites singing a song of victory after the overthrow of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. At that time, Moses’ sister, Miriam, led the Israelite women “with tambourines and dancing” as she sang. In Judges 11:34 we see that when Jephthah returned from battle, Jephthah’s daughter met him with timbrels and dance. David’s victories were also celebrated in song in 1 Samuel 18:6–7.”
Scripture notes that music was used in conjunction with coronations, events in the royal court, feasts and when supernatural events occurred, like when the trumpets sounded, and the walls of Jericho fell down. David also was skilled at playing his harp and was known for using it to soothe Saul during his demonic attacks.
Music has great healing benefits too. “Certain types of music can produce calming effects that reduce anxiety, since calming music leads to a decrease in physiological responses. With the decrease in physiological responses, comes a decrease in tension and anxiety. By decreasing tension and anxiety, the calming effects can alter a person’s mood to become positive or reduce pain, in some instances. Research in Germany shows that over 20 years and 90,000 patients, the ones who had soothing music playing in the background during their procedures reduced the amount of medication taken for pain by 50%, in comparison to those who had no music played at all. Their recovery time also was reduced.”
Truly music can literally help us to be well with our soul. Let’s sing, It is Well with my Soul.
Miriam: play It is Well With My Soul
It is Well with my Soul, UMH 377 (Assurance)
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul.
When we are worried or out of sorts, when we think the world is against us. We can rest assured that Jesus is our savior, our rock, the one who brings peace that is beyond understanding.
Ephesians chapter 5 versus 15-20 say:
15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Music helps us connects with God. When we join our voices together in song and when we listen to music that is uplifting, we allow ourselves to relax, restore, reconnect with one another and with our creator, our sustainer and our redeemer. And that, my dears, is a Blessed Assurance. Shall we sing that one too?
Miriam: Play Blessed Assurance
Blessed Assurance, UMH 369 (Assurance)
assurance, Jesus is mine
oh, what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation purchase of God
born of his spirit, washed in his blood
this is my story, this is my song
praising my savior all the day long
Your assignment this week is to praise your savior all the day long. To use music to uplift, to focus and to connect with Christ. No more negativity, no more winter doldrums. Listen to the sounds of life all around you. Spend some time noticing what sounds you hear inside, and outside. Maybe take a walk or sit on your porch, listening, listening for the sounds of God. Notice how the music of life influences your mood, your attitude, and your connection to God. Be intentional and sing praises all the day long.
Let us pray:
Gracious Lord of all, thank you for the gift of music. We thank you for those who play music, for
those who sing, and for those who appreciate the sounds around us. Give us the courage this week to connect with
you through music. We ask this in Jesus