Other People’s Music

28 May 2021

Have you ever been irritated by someone else’s music? As a bus driver for youth groups and children’s events, I’ve heard the following on almost every trip:

One student starts to sing, and this could be any song. On my first trip driving children for EFCC’s Winter Camp, I probably heard the ABC song, shouted more than sung, by most of the 40 riders on board, about 55 times in a row.

At some point another student yells out, “Shut up, no one wants to hear that!” Does that stop the student(s) from singing? No way! It actually helps to get some of the other students to join in. Then, a competition ensues to see who can be the loudest and hold their position the longest, the singers or the shut-up’ers.

Recently, at the beach in La Jolla, there were several ice cream vendors pushing small ice cream carts on wheels up and down the beach. Each vendor had a swinging line of bells attached to the cart.  The bells did not create a melodious invitation to purchase their product. They produced irritation, and I felt a strong urge to chuck the bells, maybe even the carts, into the sea.

I imagine that everyone has multiple stories of being irritated by other people’s music.

That is partly why the story in Acts 16:25-30 fascinates me:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Paul and Silas’ prayed and sang, and their music didn’t bring irritation, it brought transfixion. How else could one explain the fact that the other prisoners didn’t bolt the moment the doors were opened?

I hope the praise of my life, the praise of my heart, and the praise of our church make that kind of difference to the people around us too.

Pastor John Riley
Junior High Ministry