Finishing The Song Together
I’ve always had a dream that something like this song would happen to me [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP1H5lwur0Y]. With just a single voice, a song begins, and then more and more voices join in until it’s a full chorus. Thanks for the dream, Barry Manilow!
I remember a story Bishop Mike Coyner told a few years ago. He was officiating a funeral for a clergyman, and the pastor’s grandson was going to sing a song. As the boy started the song, his voice broke a little bit, and by the time the chorus came around he couldn’t continue. While he gathered himself, the congregation started to quietly sing the chorus for him. Each time, he would sing the verse and emotions would overcome as the chorus neared. The congregation had to sing every chorus for him…they “helped him finish the song.”
This afternoon, my family shared Thanksgiving with my in-laws in North Carolina. Their church (and particularly my mother-in-law) have been heavily invested in a family evacuated from Burma [they adamantly reject the name Myanmar], and so it was no surprise that LaLa and family were to be joining us at the table.
We have very little in common with the Burmese. They have seen far more horrific events in their life than I will likely ever see. They lived in a refugee camp for >10 years prior to immigrating to the U.S. After 3 1/2 years here, LaLa’s English is still very broken and his wife’s is nearly non-existent. We watched a part of the Lions-Packers game. He dislikes football because of the violence. We couldn’t find any soccer (I dislike soccer) on tv, so we stuck with football till dinner.
Peggy (mother-in-law) had asked LaLa to say grace in Karen (their native tongue). Then, my family was to sing Wesley’s Grace (the tune The Old 100th – most of us know the tune as The Doxology). Isaiah started the song, as usual, with Annette and Hannah and me joining in at the end of the first line. Around the middle of the song, the Burmese family recognized the tune and a wonderful thing happened. They joined in! By the end, our table blessing became a united voice in dual language praise to Yahweh.
We don’t like the same sports. He barely speaks my language, I couldn’t even begin to understand his. We couldn’t be culturally more diverse from each other. But our voices united in praise of our God! Our families joined together to lift up the name of Yahweh and to praise him for all he has provided for us. I wish I had a recording of THAT moment.
We didn’t ask, but I presume the words they were singing were the Karen version of the Doxology…but that too is a fitting table blessing.
Be present at our table Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
Thy mercies bless and grant that we
May feast in fellowship with Thee
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise him all creatures here below
Praise him above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
It seemed like a combination of ‘finishing the song’ and “One Voice”. Who around you needs help finishing the song? And who can you invite to add their voice at the table?