Newsletter 9 October 2020 | Ways To Worship Without Singing

Like many churches, we love singing at St John’s and Holy Trinity Thornhill! It’s basic and central to who we are and what we do when we gather for worship. So, this Covid-19 season of not being able to sing when we gather is especially hard for us. 
But it’s not impossible. That’s why over the last week, as we’ve met in church masked and socially distanced, I’ve kept saying: ‘Please don’t sing, but please do worship.’
For many, that’s a real challenge, because they can no longer sing their heart out and praise God as they desire. But in the same way that lovers find ways to express devotion even when they’re separated, so the restrictions of this season stretch us to find fresh opportunities for adoration of our glorious God!
So, let’s get really practical. What can we do? How can we worship without singing? Here are ten top tips that I commend to you. They’re all good, biblical ways to worship that people have practiced over the centuries.
So here we go. Ten ways to worship without singing.

1. Use your mind & heart. 
Instead of singing the words, in your head register, read and hear the words. Then let them go from your head to your heart, so we end up doing what is advocated in Ephesians 5:19: ‘make music in your heart to the Lord.’ 

2. Use your breath.
We can mouth the words, even whispering them very quietly under our breath in our masks. We can let our breath unite with the breath of God’s Spirit, and thereby know his presence. In doing this, we’re fulfilling the call of Psalm 150:6: ‘let everything that has breath praise the Lord!’

3. Use your legs.
When someone we respect enters the room, most people do one of two things with their legs. One is to use them to stand. We stand to honour them, like God’s people were urged to do in worship in Nehemiah 9:5. The other is to use them to kneel. We show humility by bowing the knee in reverence, like they did in 2 Chronicles 7:3. Of course there is a time and place to sit on our backsides, but most people in Scripture, unless they’re old or infirm, get off their posterior to worship. To do so, we need to use our legs.

4. Use your hands.
After our mouths, the next most commonly-used tool for communication is our hands. Just watch people talking in public, and you know this is true. That’s why it often surprises me that many followers of Jesus fail to use their hands very much in worship. And yet the Bible encourages us to do just this, speaking of ‘lifting hands’ (Ps. 141:2; 1 Tim. 2:8), ‘spreading out hands’ (Ps. 143:6) and ‘opening hands’ (Deut. 15:8) to God. If you’ve never used your hands in worship in this way, now is surely the time to explore this, lifting the name of Jesus higher and higher.

5. Use your feet.
Given that we’re meant to keep distanced from people, we can’t move around too much when we’re gathered for worship at present. But we can keep our feet on the floor and sway. Jewish worshippers often do this, imaging themselves swaying to and fro, like a candle flame in the breeze of God’s Spirit, and we can do the same. And of course we can use our feet to dance. There is much in the Bible on dancing (eg. Ps 149:3), although very few churches seem to practice it these days.

6. Use your fingers.
God gave us fingers to aid creativity: for making, building, writing, drawing and for all sorts of crafting. So why not use your fingers creatively in worship in these unusual days? That could mean drawing something, or writing something to express your praise.

7. Use your ears.
With less distractions from our own voices, and from others around us, we should be all the more aware of the sounds of worship which will mainly come from the front – from those leading. So let’s ensure we’re using our ears well for listening: listening to the words, the prayers and the praises, and as we do so let’s be attentive to the prophetic voice of the Holy Spirit who wants to ‘strengthen, encourage and comfort’ us (1 Cor. 14:3).

8. Use your eyes.
As well as using your ears to listen, open your eyes to see. Look at the signs and symbols in the building and let them enhance your worship. Most are there for a purpose. So be aware of space and shadows, of colour and candles, of pictures and people. If you’re in a building you know well, ask the Lord to help you look beyond the familiar and see things in a fresh way. Use what you see to cause you to be thankful and draw close to God.

9. Use your smile.
As well as not singing, we’re not meant to have much conversation inside church. This doesn’t mean we stop being church family, but it does mean we will all need to work harder to welcome people, to create community and to show kindness to each other. An obvious way to do this, is simply to smile. Even though you’re wearing a mask, make an effort to smile at those around you, and supplement it with a wave. Smile and show those around you that you’re pleased they’re there! I suspect our “smize”  greetings will be key worship tools in this season.

10. Use your finances.
Finally, as well as giving our thanks, our praise, our prayers and our love to the Lord, we’re also called to give him our tithes and offerings (see, eg. 1 Cor. 16:2). Giving financially – be it via EFT nowadays – is another important way of worshipping, even though we can’t sing. God receives our finances as worship, when we give from a thankful and cheerful heart (2 Cor. 9:7). As we worship with our money, so we can expect the Lord will continue to look after us, so we can give again. Such is his overflowing love (Luke 6:38).
So there are all sorts of ways we can worship without singing in these extended coronavirus days. And if it’s a Holy Communion Service I would add Use your Taste – as we eat the bread and allow our sense of taste to help us be thankful for the Cross and draw close to God.
So seize the opportunities to worship differently. Let’s be courageous and creative. Brave and bold. Prayerful and playful.
If we can learn now to worship together in many of these ten ways and more, then our worship post-coronavirus, rather than being frailer, weaker and sicklier, will in fact be much deeper, stronger and healthier. 
So even if we can’t sing yet, please do worship. – Matthew Porter

It’ll be good to take it in our stride as we find new ways of doing church for the immediate future:

  1. We will insist on all protocols on attending church, including wearing of masks, social distancing and sanitizing. You will be met at the front door and your temperature and name will also be recorded.
  2. We are allowed 50 percent of capacity in our churches, for us at St John’s that means 125 people in each service.
  3. Our Compliance Officers are Lance Shortt and William Walton who have been trained in these protocols.
  4. We have not wanted to put any age restrictions on anyone coming to church. So, if you are feeling well on the day, you may attend. If not, for instance you have a bad cold, please stay at home (and come along when you are feeling better).
  5. We also understand that you may have a co-morbidity like high blood pressure, diabetes etc which puts you in a high risk group. Please be aware of this risk. We implore you to rather be cautious in these circumstances. Covid hasn’t disappeared and is still very much part of our landscape, and so there is a still considerable risk.
  6. We will continue doing “Blended Services” that means that we will record the sermons and eucharist service and issue that on a Sunday as we have been doing over the previous six months in order to reach folks who cannot attend on a Sunday. It is quite amazing to hear that sermons have been shared in North America, UK, UAE, Australia, New Zealand and the like (as well as being listened to in bed!!).
  7. Also be aware that Communion will be of One Kind which means that we will not be sharing the common cup at the services. The bread will suffice as sufficient for Communion.
  8. We also have to refrain from singing – so this might be an opportunity to practice your “holy hum” behind the mask.
  9. The collection plate will be placed at the back of the church for when the congregants exit if you want to use this facility.
  10. There will be no processions into the church or down the aisle at any point. The Anglican “touch” of greeting the minister at the back of the church thus falls away for the time being.
  11. No bibles and prayer books will be in the pews – if you want to bring your own you are more than welcome. We will be using the overhead screen for the prompts during the liturgy.
  12. Passing of the peace will be via the “holy wave” again in order to limit contact.

Matthew and Delene have been part of the Holy Trinity Thornhill and St John’s family for the past five years. In that time Matthew has been ordained and become an integral part of our worshipping communities.
Matthew has this month resigned from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and hence will be doing his final services with us. Matthew will be heading into a different season planning to grow his “end times” teaching, help a church planter and establish opportunities in ministering to Jewish people.
We wish Matthew and Delene God-speed in their continued ministry.

Mark Derry

Mission Fete Pop-up Charity Shop

Mission Fete Pop-up Charity Shop
Just one more week to go!  Our friends in the field have really struggled during COVID lockdowns, so please support! 
Please also bring in any of your unwanted goods to add to our shop!  

Open Tuesday to Friday from 9.30am to 1pm,
or half an hour after each service on Sundays.
Please wear your mask!

All funds go to Mission.

Please click on the link below if you would like a 2021 Lectionary for your daily readings. Click here to order your Lectionary.
Closing date: 26 October.
(Orders will then be sent to the Diocesan Office)
The cost is R25 each.

The autographed books will be on sale in the hall foyer at St John’s,
while the pop-up shop is running – Tuesday’s to Friday’s from 9:30am -1pm.

After a long break with all the Covid-19 restrictions, we at the WESSA Algoa Bay Branch are continuing our beach and other clean-ups again.

The next beach clean-up will be on Saturday, 17 October at Pollok Beach from 09:30 to 10:30. We will meet at the far end of the parking area close to the Summerstrand Surf Lifesaving Club. Look out for the WESSA feather flags. Your landmark will be the Something Good Roadhouse.

Covid-19 protocols must be observed with social distancing adhered to. Please wear masks and bring your own gloves if possible, water, hats and sunscreen. We will provide sanitiser and the bags. We look forward to seeing you there.

For more information contact Tim at 082 775 8816.

Please pray for Magdy and Annelise who spent most of the lockdown in Switzerland and are now back in Cairo. Pray for the many ministries they are running and for God’s blessing over them as a family.

Dedicated Giving

We would appreciate it if you could deposit your dedicated giving contributions via EFT into our bank acount: 
Standard Bank
    Branch Code: 050417
    A/C Name: St John the Baptist Church
    A/C Number: 080281206
(Please make sure your number & reference is included)
Contact Allan at if you do not have a pledge number.

General Notice

Please be aware that the recycling area is currently closed until further notice.