Courage to Sing
Emily Penrose-McLaughlin of Independence, MO, USA
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. -Psalm 36:5-7
Several months ago I was invited to share in worship with The Groves retirement community in Independence, Missouri. On Sunday mornings, the pastor and a small team of volunteers facilitate two worship services. The first worship is in the memory care unit, secured for dementia residents.
I noticed when I arrived that many hymns were included in the prelude and worship. Not having a great deal of understanding about dementia, I wondered how these songs would go as we tried to sing together. What I saw and heard when the music started was awe-inspiring. It was as if the sound of the music lit a spark inside many of the residents as they began to sing from memory all of the words to the tunes of beloved hymns.
Amazed and curious, I researched a bit afterwards about the connection between music and memory. Numerous studies documented the power of music for the brain, and how it can “awaken” Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. So, it seemed to me that music is the memory of the heart.
I have thought about this experience many times, about its significance for me personally. The phrase that keeps coming to mind is, “If there’s a song in your heart, sing it!” Many times in my life I have been profoundly impacted-whether in joy or sorrow-to the point that I could feel it in the pounding of my heart. But I do not always share (or sing) its message.
I then thought about how this translates to my calling as a disciple and witness of Christ. How do I use my voice to share about the expansive love of the One I follow? What is the song in my heart? May I have the courage to sing it!
Wherever I am, God is here.
Breathe deeply and prayerfully consider the story you have just read. What is the Spirit’s invitation to you in these words? What does it look like to wake up to God’s presence in this moment?
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