• Michelle Whitlock

The Tie That Binds

Updated: Feb 17


I shared this story in a facebook devotional last spring, but I wanted to share it again as we begin the Lenten season.


I lived in TX for 3 years as a student at Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University. During this time, I served a church just south of Dallas as music director. The choir had a long tradition of ending practice with prayer. They would stand in a circle and share prayer concerns and then sing the first verse of Blest Be the Tie That Binds in harmony. No piano or accompaniment; just beautiful voices.


Twenty years later I still think of them every time I sing the song. Which means I will think about them weekly during this Lenten season. Next week we begin Lent with a worship series called “The Tie That Binds,” so this familiar song will be a regular part of the Sunday service for six weeks.


Why this theme during Lent? When I began to review the lectionary passages for this year, there was a recurring theme: our connection to God and our connection to each other. Of course, that connection is something we struggle to feel when we can’t share a smile, shake hands, or give a hug to our church community. It is my prayer that you will find ways to connect with each other and with God in the coming weeks, despite the challenges we face.


One way to connect is to pray daily for someone in your life. The calendar below suggest one person each day for prayer, a note, or a shout out on social media. (#TieThatBinds) Take the “Tie That Binds” challenge and see if you can lift up one person daily for the 40 days of Lent. Bonus points if all 40 of them are HUMC folks! Since Sundays aren’t counted as part of Lent, take Sunday as a day reflect on the blessings of the previous week.


When I graduated and left TX in 2001, a church member gave me a piece of her art work. Several of her pieces were on the display wall in the Sanctuary, but one had caught my attention. She gave me the choice, but later admitted she was thinking about me as she created the collage. It includes hand painted images of people in the congregation, small pieces of “Blest Be The Tie” from a hymnal, lots of color, and a gold thread that binds all the people together. You may have seen this piece on the wall in my office, but for the next 6 weeks it will be in the Great Hall with us as we reconnect with the tie that binds us together.


The tie that binds us together as one community in relationship with God is a covenant of grace and love. It is the promise that we are one no matter what keeps us apart. May we restore and renew that bond with each other and with God during this Lenten season.






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