McFarland

Wednesday Meditations by Pastor Tim

Light a candle

to remember that Christ is risen

Read Colossians 3:16-17

 

Music is a balm for my heart and soul these days. First, I am thankful for our local MLC musicians for sharing their music during this challenging time: Chris Malueg, leading our singing on Sunday mornings; John Scoville, for recording piano music for our website; and Deb Nygaard, for leading songs for our preschool children. I am also so thankful for the abundance of musical talent among our congregational membership! Secondly, I have been able to be connected on-line to several friends and family across the US who work in music. It has been wonderful to see and hear their voices and instruments! Finally, the gift of technology has been able to spread music from famous groups and individuals across a wide spectrum of genres—from videos of Broadway artists to rock musicians in their living rooms to cello great Yo-Yo Ma playing from his home studio. Music to lift our weary souls!

As this passage from Colossians indicates, singing hymns and songs to God has been part of communal worship from the very beginning of the church. It was part of the experience of the ancient Israelites, as well (the psalms, for example). Colossians says that we sing to God out of thanksgiving and praise, “with gratitude in our hearts.” We also sing to God when feeling despair and loneliness; this is the tradition of “lament.” (Psalm 22:1, “my God why have you forsaken me,” is an example of a song of lament in Scripture.) Music, in fact, touches the whole range of human emotional experience, and offers that expression to God as prayer.

Last week I found an on-line rendition of “How Can I Keep from Singing” by Robert Lowry, and instantly posted it to my Facebook page. You can also find it by searching on YouTube under the song title by New York City Virtual Choir and Orchestra, featuring the Grace Chorale of Brooklyn. I also found this great quote from the chorale’s website: “Music cannot be quarantined.” (gracechorale.org)

Lowry, the hymn’s composer, was a prolific hymn-writer of the late 1800s and wrote other well-known hymns such as “Shall We Gather at the River.” This song shows us another reason to make music: hope. No storm is too big for the Risen Christ. He is the rock to which we cling in struggles, the holy ground on which we dance in jubilation, the solid mountain that lifts us up. Music is one of God’s primary ways of transmitting the hope of Christ, and when we make music with others, we share God’s gift of hope for the world.

“No storm can shake my in-most calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?” (ELW 763)

Christ has been raised to new life, the new creation has come to heaven and earth. We are his, and he is ours. This is our hope, dear friends. So keep singing! Keep sharing music! Keep singing along to those videos on your phone or computer! (No one cares if you are off-key…. Well, a family member might….)

We sing out our lives and pour out our souls to the One whose life, death and resurrection brings us hope every day, Jesus Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth.

Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Study Questions

1) What is your favorite song/hymn/music, and why? Reflect on its meaning in your life.

2) Public singing in worship is something we deeply miss during this time of COVID-19. Why do we sing in worship? What do you miss about the experience? Is it easier or harder to sing via technology at home, or in-person in a public space?

3) Colossians reminds us to give thanks to God in everything we say and do (3:17). Begin each day with thanks for God’s blessings of grace, mercy, wellness, life and love. Find a sacred or secular song that captures your prayer of thanks, or touches a particular feeling or experience of the divine.

Prayer

Thank you, Gracious God, for the gifts of music and song, and for those you have gifted with music to lead our worship and praise. Through music, give us a new awareness of your beauty and grace, enliven us with hope, and join our voices with all the choirs of heaven. We pray for all who sing lament today because of suffering of mind, body or spirit. Help us to sing one another’s songs of joy and sorrow, fear and courage, peace and thanksgiving. We pray this in humble gratitude for your faithful, loving presence, in the name of Christ. Amen.