Today as I finally finished setting up my work space in the new collaborative Southeast Portland Parish office at Trinity UMC I set aside some time for my daily devotionals. The psalm for the day is 86 and my reading began with:
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
I instantly started singing a song that I learned when we served the church in Yakima. When we sang that same song, Cry of My Heart, at the church in Veneta we sang it a little differently. With our worship leaders guiding us it took on a more gospel feel than the slightly edgy rock way the worship band did it in Yakima.
As we begin a new adventure this week with the Southeast Portland Parish I know that I will learn to sing old songs in new ways. I will also learn new songs. One of the most rich spiritual gifts of the SFC community for me has been the music that one of our leaders, Ace Waters, brings to our gatherings. So many weeks I find myself in tears as we sing. Sometimes the music he chooses speaks to the pain of losing someone, or reminds me of the way our world cries for justice, or stirs my soul with hopefulness as we sing of God’s grace. And the tears flow as the music transcends the moment and unites our community in the spirit.
Sometimes when singing old songs in new ways I want to do it the old way, the way that reminds me of the past and the people who I once sang with. Sometimes when we sing a new song I get frustrated, I don’t want to work at learning the melody or articulating the words, I just want to sing mindlessly. And there are places for those moments of nostalgia and letting go in song. What I remember though is that there is such beauty in the new expression and that the music continues to lift us up to God, be it a favorite hymn or a new Gungor tune.
As we move into singing a new song in a new way in this space there is room for the memories, the old ways too. That is the beauty of our life together, it ebbs and flows like the best melody, uniting us and connecting us to something more and helping us to be wholly devoted to God.