Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Joyful Noise for the New Year

Happy new year!

Today my son Christopher and I celebrated the dawn of 2017 by continuing a mother-son tradition of several years standing: we led worship at St. Paul's United Methodist Church here in Boulder, me as "preacher girl" presiding over the service and providing an inspirational new year's message, he at the keyboard playing for a congregational hymn sing.

I'm always surprised to learn that not everyone loves a hymn sing as I do. Even one of our choir members, the one with the most glorious voice and biggest stage presence, said that hymn sings "aren't her favorite." One friend of mine, who attends a different church, claims to dread hymn singing. How can this be??!

I'm a mediocre singer at best, but perhaps what I love best about being a regular church attender is the chance to sing, indeed, to belt out hymns confident that any wrong notes will be drowned by the swelling sound of the entire congregation singing together.

Christopher can play anything in the United Methodist Hymnal by sight, so I invited people just to call out numbers. First up, in honor of the season, "We Three Kings of Orient Are." Then, because I had referenced this one to frame our prayer time, "It's me, it's me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer" (most rousing!). One member surprised us with a request we've never sung in our church before and I had never even heard before: "I Sought the Lord." Bold Christopher sailed through its four flats with aplomb.

Then, as we are facing a new year that offers new challenges for our country and our world, two that almost brought me to tears: "Let There Be Peace on Earth (and Let it Begin with Me)"; and the moving African-American spiritual and anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, "We Shall Overcome." After we sang that last one, no one called out any other hymn numbers, even though most of us usually have endless favorites to request: it was such a perfect note to end upon.

In this new year, I wish all of you health and happiness, work for your hands and love for your hearts. Welcome, 2017!

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