Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Morning Meds--Harmony

“I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; 
I will sing of you among the peoples.”

Strangely enough, I have but two memories of an early childhood trip to New York City, and both of them emerge from kinds of fear. I had to be less than ten. We visited the United Nations, because I have some kind of memory of standing in front of that building, but no memories at all of being inside.

What I’ve not forgotten, as I said, is two images, both from the street. In one a woman who is apparently mad is shouting and screaming wildly. The words make no sense, as I remember; but the scene is distressing, largely because no one seems to care. People—thousands of them—walk right past on her sidewalks 
wider than I’d ever seen. Someone should tell her not to scream, I must have thought. But no one did, and she kept it up. Finally, we were out of earshot.

The other memory is also from the street—a man in a sandwich board saying “Repent” or something. I was just a kid, but I remember being kind of embarrassed, almost the same feeling I had when that mad woman wouldn’t stop screaming. This guy was preaching, and I knew it; but I found him and his preaching rather nuts. I didn’t want him drawing such distressed attention to a faith I knew better by way of the Christmas eve programs or morning prayers over Sugar Pops.

Those two memories are filed away in a scrapbook--memories of a trip to the big city.

Gratitude is the beginning of the Christian life—that’s what I believe; and gratitude makes us sing. No question. Gratitude makes David pipe the dawn in this psalm, or believe he can—or at least make the outrageous claims he does. 

Our thanks for the salvation that has come so shockingly into our lives sends us cartwheeling into the world. “I will sing of you among the peoples,” David shouts, ecstatic, and some guy in New York in the early fifties adorns himself in a sandwich board and stands out on the street where he scares the children and the horses.

Our pastor used to talk about an adult male in a previous church who wasn’t blessed with full cognitive abilities (I don’t know how to say it). This man had a special love for a certain organist’s playing. Whenever she’d play, he’d dance in the aisles.

Maybe we all should. Maybe we all should pull on sandwich boards or paint “Jesus Loves me” across the side of our houses. There’s a man just down the block that loves to sit outside on Sunday afternoons, his stereo cranked, the sounds “The Old Rugged Cross” being sung by a men’s quartet with bluegrass roots taking over the entire neighborhood.

I know David’s impulse here. I know what’s in him. He’s almost gone in his deep affection for the God who has saved him from death so often, and here, in the cave, has done it again. The Lord almighty has delivered him, and it makes him sing.

But how? And what tune? And how loud? Snare drums or Native flutes?  Pipe organ or ukulele? Bold type or fancy font? Stories or poems? Amish romance or dirty realism? Classical or folk rock? Johnny Cash or Mahalia Jackson? Flannery O’Conner or Pat Robertson?

One man's deliverance can be another boy's embarrassment, right? There's just no accounting for taste. 

The older I get, the more I think the answer is simply, “Just sing.” Just sing and let the Lord almighty do harmony.

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