Joy Too Abundant For Words

Many thanks to Sally Ann McKinsey Sisk, Rachel Hood, and Chris Vogado for their leadership in the worship service that inspired this post.  With much appreciation to John Fawcett for his musical invitation to see (and hear) things with a fresh grace.

     I have always loved words.  Of late I have become enchanted by the power of God-speech.  Today I was reminded that God-speech sometimes is prophetically uttered without words because, sometimes, words just won’t do.
     At the chapel service today at Columbia Theological Seminary, this week’s chapel leadership team led us in a reading of “the Prodigal Son.”  Two readers came forth and began to read the familiar words:  “Then Jesus said, ‘there was a man who had two sons…'”  It is not without a small amount of embarrassment that I admit to you that I almost immediately checked out after the second verse.  I, like so many others, have heard this story countless times and know exactly how it ends.  But, as I have discovered, the Spirit has a holy and unpredictable way of reorienting us in fascinating and invigorating ways.
     As the story continued and my mind wandered away (perhaps ironic given the content of the story), something happened that ripped me from my distraction.  As the prodigal son returned home to find the father awaiting him eagerly with joyful celebration on the agenda, the liturgists uttered these words of the passage:  “Now the elder son was in the field…and he heard music and dancing.”  At that precise moment as the reading continued, a friend and colleague of mine, leaning casually against the wall of the chapel with guitar in hand, began playing music that immediately reoriented me to the story in a way I have never experienced before.  The tune was soft and yet playful and warm.  A very physical joy enveloped me as I heard the beautiful, celebratory music.  Simply put, the music forced me (I use that term intentionally) to feel the passage in a new way.
     I found myself standing shoulder to shoulder with the elder son as his father explained to both of us why there was such an abundant feast going on inside for our jerk of a brother.  We found that the music, more so than the words, expressed to us that this is a time of joy.  And what’s more, this joy in this moment was too abundant for words alone to embody.  So perhaps the best way to understand God’s grace is to stop talking about it and go inside and join the feast!

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2 Comments

Filed under Liturgical Practices, Music, Scripture Reflections

2 responses to “Joy Too Abundant For Words

  1. always enjoy your sermons at Silver Creek

  2. Many thanks, Cornelia! It is a blessing for me to receive the hospitality of this wonderful community and I look forward to continuing fellowship with you all!

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