At a memorial service I attended recently for a ninety-two-year-old member of our congregation who passed away, his great-grandchildren sang “In the Bulb There is a Flower.” The tune and profound message stick with me long after the service ended.
In her lyrics from 1985, Natalie Sleeth captured the mystery of life and death, of giving up and gaining, of despair and finding hope. “In the bulb there is a flower, in the seed, an apple tree; in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free! In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”
This morning when I rose from my bed, it was still dark outside. By the time I sat at my desk with a cup of coffee to study my morning Sunday school lesson, the sun had begun to peek up over the Massanutten Mountain. The light streamed in my eyes and fully awakened me for the work ahead. It was a glorious moment of rebirth, of the darkness turning to dawn and then day, of the beauty of God’s nature once again revealed.
In the mysteries of our lives, we hope and pray for the darkness to turn to the day. “There’s a song in every silence,” Natalie Sleeth penned, “seeking word and melody.” As the sun rises in the mornings of our lives, we hope and have confidence in God’s sustaining love, “unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”
I heard a band recently sing “You Can’t Stand Up Alone,” which declares our dependence on others and God. Daybreak composed this song in the 1970s, and it first appeared on vinyl, though you can find it today on YouTube.
We can’t stand up alone. We can’t succeed in life at any stage by relying only on ourselves. From infancy to the grave, we need others. My two-week-old grandson is entirely dependent on his parents. This past week at a church memorial service for a man who lived ninety productive years, it was clear that he needed others throughout his life.
“You can’t stand up all by yourself; you can’t stand up alone. You need the touch of a mighty hand; you can’t stand up alone.” The band Daybreak included young men my age, some of whom attended the same college I did in the late 1970s. They did a fabulous job with the lyrics and arrangement of this song.
At each step of our lives, we need the touch of a mighty hand. That touch comes through the love, nurture, and support of others. God reaches into our lives with grace and Spirit-power as we acknowledge the simple reality that we can’t stand up alone.
When I pick up my guitar to accompany a worship song, I first tune the instrument. I’ve noticed that accomplished musicians in the audience can hear whether I’ve set the six strings to their proper notation. Tuning is an essential first step in making good music.
This morning in worship, the song leader texted and said he lost his voice. Could I step in and lead a song, he wondered. So this morning, my wife and I will lead the wonderful tune and text by Brian Doerksen from 1998.
“Come, Now is the Time to Worship” is a theological and straightforward song. Come, just as you are to worship. We come in blue jeans and sweaters because we meet outside on the church parking lot during Covid. This song tunes our hearts to God’s and helps us enter into worship.
Willingly we choose to surrender our lives, and willingly our knees will bow. Doerksen wrote in the plural, making this an excellent song for corporate worship. Just as you are–come, before the Lord, and worship. This is a good song, and I’m glad it made it into our new hymnal, which we will sing from today. May God be glorified in the music.
Twenty years ago, Billy James Foote wrote a song with powerful lyrics. You are My King is easy to lead in a group setting and has a durable tune. The phrase “Your spirit is within me” catches my attention every time I hear or sing the song.
As a child of God, the Holy Spirit lives within us. We have God’s very being and presence in our hearts, our lives, and our work. May we affirm that God’s spirit resides in us, giving grace, hope, and love.
In response to God’s amazing love in sending His son to redeem us from sin, we can carry out our work. In response, we sing of God’s amazing love.
I held our newest grandson two days ago, only six hours after the little boy came into the world. God’s spirit resides within him, as each child born in this world carries the image of God. In the song Amazing Love, which I’ve led many times at church with our congregation, one phrase packs a powerful theological affirmation that God’s Spirit resides within us upon birth. And our response is to tell, show, and sing of God’s amazing love. “Oh God, You are our King.”