How Can We Keep from Singing!

Methodists are singing people. From the beginning people called Methodists gave expression to the reality of their Life in God and Christ through songs old and new. “Sing all,” John Wesley encourage his fellow sisters and brothers in Christ in his Directions for Singing.  “Sing lustily and with a good courage,” he said, being “no more afraid of your voice now, nor more shamed of tis being heard.” Finally he said: “Above all sing spiritually.”

At this summer’s Sunday morning worship we’ve been singing hymns that people of our congregation submitted as their favorites. One of my favorite hymns is My Life Flows On that dates from the early days of the Quaker movement in the early 19th century America.

My life flows on in endless song above all earth’s lamentation.
I hear the clear, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

My wife and I sang the song repeatedly during the early part of last year as we were dealing with the sudden death of Sam, our son. We listened to different covers of the song too. Our favorite was the one recorded by Eva Cassidy, who herself died young. I think about the song now as I trying to deal with the whirlwind of emotions surrounding the trial of Trayvon Martin’s murder, especially the aftermath of last week’s not-guilty verdict.

I try not to focus so much on the verdict itself. Our adversarial legal system follows its own logic and what it considers “justice” is very narrowly defined. The real issue is much larger than this one trial but this trail offers a glimpse into what kind of society we have created and what kind of society we intend to create collectively. I try to see, feel and embrace “earth’s lamentation.” And I try to hear the “hymn that hails a new creation,” even as I suffer the immense distance between the two. I think about Christ, who became one of us, suffered with the suffering humanity, incarnated the heaven on earth, and showed us the way toward reconciliation. The song becomes a prayer in me. Indeed, how can I keep from singing!

Let us keep singing the hymn of new creation, the song of praise and thanksgiving, and joy in the midst of all earth’s sorrow. As companions in Christ, let us keep on the journey of growing in love of God and love neighbor, rooted deeply in the grace and unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ. In July Larry Hjalmarson(7/14) and Tuungafasi Halaeua(7/28) shared their faith journeys. I know it takes courage, honesty and trust to make oneself vulnerable and available to others, and I thank them greatly. By doing so, they have contributed to spiritually growth of our community. In August, Nii Mensah Ansah (8/18) and Levy Woodruff (8/25) will share their faith journeys. Let us keep on singing “love is the Lord of heaven and earth.” Let us encourage each other and become blessing to each other; God will make us blessing to the world.

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