A few weeks ago I attended my conference’s Clergy Executive Session via ZOOM. This is an annual meeting where we affirm the commissioning and ordaining of new pastors, remember pastors who have died in the past year, receive reports of those who have chosen to go on leave or exit the denomination, etc. I logged in as I was finishing an outdoor class at my YMCA and the opening session began as I was driving home.
This was not a good plan. I was traveling on our busy bypass when all of a sudden a gorgeous baritone voice came through my phone. He began to sing “Be Thou My Vision.”
My favorite hymn.
When the bishop introduced him, she invited us to sing along from our multiple locations across Georgia and beyond.
I began to sing and immediately started to cry. It wasn’t just a finger-dabbing kind of crying; it was a full blown shoulder-shuddering, snot-flowing sob. This is not a good thing to do while driving on a busy summer day of beach traffic.
Singing is a beautiful, cathartic, uplifting, soul-stirring way to connect with the Holy Spirit. Somehow songs poke us in a place where we don’t usually get poked. Music resonates deep in our core, where we remember our mothers gently rocking and humming us to sleep and our daddies singing silly songs with us on long car rides.
Psalms are both painful and healing to me right now. They are painful in that they were written to be sung out loud on a journey with other pilgrims, which of course we can’t do right now. But they are also healing because I know that there WILL come a time when we can sing together again in large groups. Lord, hasten that day!
But for today, we sing silently with our eyes.
Psalm 105 (Common English Bible)
Give thanks to the Lord;
call upon his name;
make his deeds known to all people!
2 Sing to God;
sing praises to the Lord;
dwell on all his wondrous works!
Everyone I know, myself included, is hitting a wall right now. The mask wars, the number of COVID cases continuing to rise, remote learning gearing up to start (causing great stress for teachers, parents, and kids), waiting for days on end for COVID test results to come back, cabin fever, fears for our livelihood, sorrow over the 700,000 deaths worldwide, the lack of healthy social interaction…it is all getting to us. Tempers are fragile, friendships are frayed, families are not speaking to each other, and we need help. We need hope. We especially need to remind each other of the wondrous works God has done, is doing, and will do again.
3 Give praise to God’s holy name!
Let the hearts rejoice of all those seeking the Lord!
4 Pursue the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always!
5 Remember the wondrous works he has done,
all his marvelous works, and the justice he declared—
6 you who are the offspring of Abraham, his servant,
and the children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
When singing brings only tears, it is time to give silent praise. When a simple conversation provokes an angry response, it is time to seek the Lord. When everything you are doing feels overwhelming, remember God’s marvelous works, and let your heart rejoice.
Pursue the Lord and his strength when yours has run out. He will never run out on you.