United We Ring -- and Sing
On Tuesday evening, people around the country, including many of us, rang bells, lit a candle, and maybe said a prayer for peace and unity in our country as we remembered the 400,000 lives lost this year to the COVID pandemic. It has been a difficult year, but that was a moment of unity. Grief still abounds, not only for the loss of life, but for the loss of so many of the normal aspects of our lives.
I miss my church family and I miss singing together in worship!
But yesterday, as I was sitting at my desk in the church office, I had the inauguration on in the background while I was working on worship orders. At noontime, the bells at Queen of Peace began their daily ritual. I heard the church bells outside my window while I listened and gave thanks for a peaceful transition. Whatever our political beliefs, we should be thankful for the unity we saw of that stage. Past presidents and vice presidents, both republican and democrat were recognized as they arrived. Diversity also included skin color, ethnic background, age, and gender. There was even diversity in musical styles!
As a musician, I was particularly moved by Lady Gaga’s arrangement of the National Anthem, Jennifer Lopez’ blend of This Land is Your Land and America the Beautiful, and the simplicity of Garth Brooks’ Amazing Grace. This last one was made even more powerful when he invited everyone, on the stage and at home, to sing along. I was reminded of the power music has to unite us and define us. Not just as Americans but as children of God.
As disciples of Christ, we are called to leave behind what we were and move toward something new. Despite our divisions, we are called to move toward unity in the Kingdom of God. We may never reach a perfect union of hearts and minds - but that’s not the point. Instead, we are called to share our diverse lives with each other and find common ground. Music and art are often where we find that common ground, but only if we are willing to take the risk. There is always common ground in familiar songs and words - if we are willing to share them. There is always a glimpse of God’s kingdom in the midst of grief and strife - if we are willing to share God’s love and grace. There is always light in the darkness. There is always amazing grace.
“For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it.”
-from "The Hill We Climb"
by Amanda Gorman,
National Youth Poet Laureate