Singing the Story

Having pastor friends can make for some pretty interesting Facebook conversations.  Well, interesting to me at least!  Recently some of these “interesting” conversations have revolved around Sunday morning worship, particularly music and singing.  Some are proponents of being band-led, others choir-led.  Some want modern songs, others want the old hymns, and a few are working on “contemporizing” old lyrics with new musical arrangements.

I’m most fond of the latter group, myself.  I like the ways in which hymns tell stories and the ways in which they remind me of the psalms.  I like the ways in which they allow me to acknowledge my pain and struggles.  I like the ways in which they re-tell me who God is, and of the hope I have because of Jesus. I like the ways in which they re-tell me the Story, as the hymn-writer says, “of Jesus and His love.”

Life has been very painful lately.  We have friends who have experienced horrific tragedies.  We have family members who are going through extremely difficult seasons in their lives. I learned yesterday of another evil that has occurred to one very dear to us.  It’s hard for us to see ones we love struggling so much.  We are angry, mad, upset, and heartbroken.

And so, I need to rehear the Story once more.  I need to be reminded again who God is.

In our United Methodist hymnal, on page 368, sits an old favorite of mine: My Hope Is Built.  Here are verses two and three:

When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace.  In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. 

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, his covenant, his blood support me in the whelming flood.  When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.

Darkness has indeed veiled itself.  High and stormy gales abound.  The flood of current events threatens to drown us.  And yet.  And yet, the hymn-writer reminds me, God’s unchanging grace still abounds.  His oath, His covenant, and blood are secure, sure foundations to which I can anchor my life and hope.

This morning I sing the Story.  I sing with a sad and confused heart.  But I still sing – as a reminder and as an act of defiance.  I sing songs of hope against the evil that threatens to undo us.  I sing against the darkness songs of Light.  I sing against the brokenness and hate songs of love and assurance.  I sing against the confusion and pain songs of clarity, peace, and promise.

I sing.  I sing.  I sing.

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.  Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain.  But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.  There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

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