Like many before, this post begins in a pew.
I’m alone at church, and today I’m OK with it. It is good, even.
[Somehow today the Table feels shared with everyone in this old place, not just those warming the cushion beside me. I feast today with the man who insists on saying Shalom as we pass Peace, the couple celebrating 65 years of marriage, the young priest who seems to paint the congregation with her larger-than-life sign of the cross.]
The opening hymn strikes me as wonderfully out of place, as I learned it in quite a different context: Come Thou Fount. It is a blessing to join in without studying my hymnal and scraping to remember what my 5th grade music teacher taught us about reading music when she wasn’t busy teaching us about reading the Will of God.
The first hymn for the Eucharist is another like this: Take my Life. I’m sitting, waiting for the nervous acolyte to usher me to the altar, with my palm held open and up, the same way I do when we pray together: “And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves…” and when we say “We lift [our hearts] up unto the Lord.” I notice that the elderly lady sitting in front of me does the same; I laugh soft and wonder if she has a past like mine. But then, she might not; there’s nothing new under the sun.
[Like when I thought it original to fast before Eucharist. Brothers and sisters have been doing this for years. I think He laughs at me a lot.]
Fr. Chuck told us last week that church is about who He is, not what we need, and I realized my vocabulary needs shifting. I join the throng of voices here and beyond the veil, throat free, eyes closed.
Right before the last song, the lady whose lifted palm had been in sync with mine turned and said, “I want to sit in front of you every week for the hymns.”
I blush and laugh it off. I’ve stood next to my vocally grand grandmother enough times in church to have heard this before.
“I just forget to turn down my voice, I guess.” Here and everywhere, I add silently.
“Oh no, dear. We need it desperately. When you sing, I can sing.”
[Dante comes to mind here, too. He renders singing as the property of the redeemed: those who can hope and those with hope fulfilled.]
Once again, I am reminded that I need you. I need to join my voice to your voice, my joy to your joy. Please don’t hesitate to sing His faithfulness, His goodness, to openly offer yourself, your heart and life to Him. Because of who He is.
[And I am praying to discover, to train this kind of voice, too. I cannot always be singing sad songs.]
We were made to harmonize.
Sing loud, friend, so others can sing.