Reflection: Have you ever been a stranger in a strange land? In my adult life, we have relocated seven times. Each new place—all within the United States—lead me to strange scenery, customs, and ways of thinking. When I sought out a Presbyterian church to visit, the leader might be a man instead of the woman pastor I had before. Or the order of worship might omit something I thought important. The sermon might be delivered with an accent I had to work to understand. So instead of feeling “at home” in church, with a spirit of peace, I felt anxious and distracted. But that anxiety would fall away when the congregation began to sing. Voices, mostly untrained, raised in carols, hymns, or responses, some familiar, some new to me, were like a collective shout: “Welcome, my sister in Christ!”
It didn’t matter what the music was. Some hymns took me back to my childhood church. A Christmas carol I might have heard on the radio only the day before. A few dated back to the early days of the Reformation, or even to our Jewish roots. Being able to join with strangers—merely friends I hadn’t met yet—let me understand more deeply that the Lord is with me, binding me in fellowship with a great cloud of believers, no matter where I have been led. So, sing! If you can only hit a single note, the Lord will blend your voice in with all the others into a blessing for others. I know it did for me.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your miracle of music. Guide me to forget myself in worship. Help me to focus on the message of the songs, and let the melody bind that message into my inmost being. And bless my brothers and sisters in Christ as we sing. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Nita Sue Kent, Elder