Dear Grace Community,
A couple of weeks ago I sat at my desk making worship plans. I read through scripture and liturgies, and I thumbed through the hymnal. One of my favorite things about our hymnal is the online resource. The online hymnal lets us keep track of how many times we’ve sung a hymn and what dates we sang it. It also makes suggestions about hymns to go with scripture.
The best thing about it is that it plays 30-second samples of each hymn. This is immensely helpful because I don’t read ‘music well, so I don’t always know what tune goes with a song. Sometimes the words are wonderful, but the tune is hard, so I know not to choose that hymn.
On this particular day I played Hymn #839 Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine! Before I knew it, I was crying. My dear friend Nancy loved this hymn. She and I shared an office at our church in South Carolina for three years. Every Monday we talked about Sunday worship, and we always talked about the hymns. As two non-musicians, we talked less about the musical
characteristics of the songs and more about how they made us feel.
A few years ago, after a remission from breast cancer, the cancer returned to her bones. She did not live long after that.
Nancy was an incredible friend, and at 14 years my senior, she taught me much about life. Her witness as a Christian, a mother, wife, and friend inspired me. I was deeply saddened by her death, but years removed I do not think of her every day or even every week. Yet, her favorite hymn touched a place deep inside of me.
Grief is funny. Not ‘ha ha’ funny, of course, but inexplicable. In worship on November 1, we read aloud the names of people who died in the last year. During that service, I invited you to name aloud saints that you knew, living or dead. It is important for the church to allow space for remembering, for grieving.
On December 14, we have our annual Silent Night Worship Service at 6:30 pm in the sanctuary. The service is quiet, dark with candlelight, and it includes the Lord’s Supper. Everyone is invited. I encourage you to attend, particularly if the month of December is difficult for you, whether it is because of a recent loss, persistent difficulties, or grief that makes an appearance from time to time.