Then They Sang a Hymn

Then They Sang a Hymn November 9, 2016


On the night our Savior was betrayed, he gathered with his disciples for his last Passover. This was certainly unlike any other they had experienced before. Loaves were broken and wine was poured, but they meant something quite different this time. The ominous spirit of Jesus’ words let them know they were on the precipice. They prepared to leave, keenly sensing the evil lurking in the deepening, darkening shadows.

But first, they sang a hymn.

On another night, in another place, they realized the world is more broken than ever before. The brightness of noonday has turned to a God-forsaken gloaming.

Then they sang a hymn.

They felt the emptiness. They sat alone in the upper room, and they’re just now realizing how thin and brittle the walls are. The hands of family and friends once held dear have been jerked away from them. The warmth and laughter they once shared have turned to cold, stony glares. So, knowing they could not stay, they gazed out into the gloom.

Then they sang a hymn.

They realized that, in the cursed, backward, dark economy of darkness, it pays to be a bully, a mocker, and an abuser. So, they took a deep breath.

Then they sang a hymn.

They looked out into a world of chaos, wracked with uncertainty, anxiety, and despair. The chaos pierced through the red, white, and blue insulation of indifference, and for the first time in a long time, maybe the first time ever for some, they knew what it was like to hear only the sinister, eerie silence. There’s always hope, right? Not for many. Not on this day.

Then they sang a hymn.

They found themselves confronted with the terrifying reality that there really was a Betrayer among them. He was there this whole time, masked by the darkness that their little nightlights couldn’t reach. Sin. Their sins of exceptionalism, exclusion, injustice, wrath, anger, extravagance, entitlement, arrogance, pride, and war had finally found them out. What they find So, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy.”

Then they sang a hymn.

Friends, the darkness is overwhelming right now for many of you, I know, and it’s undeniably real. But it’s not the most real thing there is. As our Holy Scripture tells us, and as our hymns repeat, Christ is the light, and in him there is no darkness at all. There is nothing more true than that, even if we can’t see, even if we can’t believe. And Christ’s kingdom makes a mockery of all the worlds leaders and empires and electoral colleges.

So keep walking. Keep following. Keep believing. Keep hoping.

Keep singing.

Go confidently into the dead of night, and carry the candles of love, justice, and mercy with you, until the love and justice and mercy of Christ illumines every corner of this ugly, beautiful world.

But first, take and eat, take and drink, so that the Savior who was fractured and poured out fills you to the brim. Pray, so that through your spirit’s groaning you become God’s prayer for the world.

And of course, sing a hymn. Keep singing as you go into the darkness, and know you’re not alone. There are others singing the same hymn with you in this strange time and strange land. And keep singing until the day you find yourself before the throne, when the Lord’s song will be the only anthem, the only sanctus, the only unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,
Who was, and is, and is to come.

Flickr, creative commons 2.0

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