Today was"Fall Kickoff Sunday" at my church here in Boulder. After a summer hiatus, the choir was back in its festive robes, Sunday School resumed, and we had an all-church picnic following worship with tables and folding chairs set up on the shaded church lawn. Fall Kickoff was late this year, postponed because of the horrendous flooding that caused serious damage to the church basement and the parsonage. But once again, as happens every year on this special Sunday, the choir sang the same anthem: "Sing Hosanna" by Kirby Shaw.
Even though I am not a choir member (I love to sing but have a most mediocre voice, as my children will testify), I know every word of "Sing Hosanna" by heart after hearing it so many times; I know every note our organist Wendy plays for the piano accompaniment, too. And I love every word and note. I love them beyond all reckoning.
The last two years I was in Indiana for Fall Kickoff Sunday, enjoying worship at Gobin United Methodist Church in Greencastle, instead of the familiar service at my own St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Boulder. I was so excited about my new Indiana life that I hardly thought about the life I had left behind until some of the choir members, knowing how much I adore their rendition of "Sing Hosanna," posted a video of it for me on Facebook. Watching it, I wept tears of longing to be in the sanctuary listening to it in person once again.
This morning I was NEAR the sanctuary listening to "Sing Hosanna" in person, but I wasn't sitting in my usual pew. I was standing at the rear, just outside the open sanctuary doors, holding in my arms a little dog named Tank, a terrier/chihuahua mix, who is wearing "the cone of shame" after hip surgery performed on a degenerating joint by a wonderfully kind veterinarian in our congregation.
Tank is my daughter-in-law Ashley's little dog. Ashley and Christopher have been living with me, and now Tank has come to live with me, too. He arrived yesterday to my house after his short hospital stay and can't be left alone quite yet, convalescent as he is, as well as adjusting to his new environs. Ashley, Christopher, and I all needed to be at church this morning. Both of them are in the choir, and I was doing a reading during part of the service. Plus, I couldn't miss "Sing Hosanna" this year - not three years in a row! So we took turns slipping away from worship to be with Tank outside on the church grounds.
I couldn't help but think: a year ago, when I saw the video of "Sing Hosanna," I never would have guessed that a year later I'd be listening to it while holding the little dog of my daughter-in-law, who is now four months pregnant with my first grandchild.
I heard that the choir is starting to get tired of performing "Sing Hosanna" for the zillionth time and is staging a rebellion. The choir director told them that there are a few people in the congregation who would be heartbroken if they abandoned it. I was mentioned as one of these. So a dear choir friend came up to me during the picnic after worship to see if I might be willing to give up the sweet familiarity of tradition to allow the choir not to go out of their minds singing the same song over and over again.
I sighed and said, "I guess so."
I'm SO glad I got to hear "Sing Hosanna" again this morning. I would be glad to hear it every Fall Kickoff Sunday for the rest of my life. But my expanding family, my entire life, is full of changes right now. So who am I to refuse to welcome change, wherever it comes?