(Thanks to Jane Redmont for title)
(I wrote this to be read at a funeral I could not attend, because I was on vacation.)
Long ago, I read an article by a man whose son was seriously ill. He recounted keeping vigil by his son's bedside many evenings. He didn't know what to do. He didn't feel he had the words to pray. In fact, he admitted that sometimes he didn't think he had the faith to pray. So, he sang. It surprised him, he said, that he found himself singing, and that he found it comforting to sing.
We have been doing a lot of singing these past few weeks. And praying. Since hearing of K's diagnosis, perhaps there have been times when we didn't have the words to pray. I know I have felt that way. But the Spirit helps us in our weakness, with sighs, and sometimes with songs. Some of the songs you sang for K lately were Blessed Assurance, Children of the Heavenly Father, Beautiful Savior. Perhaps you sang in harmony.
I thought I knew K. pretty well. After all I've been K and D (her husband)'s pastor for twelve years. I knew she was a tireless advocate for VEAP (a food/clothing/housing agency). I knew she played the bells. I knew she had a quiet strength and grace. I knew she and D loved music, because once in awhile I would run into them at a concert at Orchestra hall. I knew she was a leader in our congregation, admired by many. But I didn't know that she was the first woman to be the President of our congregation, that she loved to knit, that she liked to sing the harmony parts on all the hymns.
She liked to sing the harmony parts on all the hymns. There's something about knowing this that lifts my heart. today there is singing in harmony, and there is praying in harmony, because the Spirit helps us in our weakness, with sighs and with songs too deep for words. Today we commend K. to the loving arms of her Savior, the one on whom she has relied for her whole life.
I will miss you today, but I'll imagine hearing the bells play, and I'll imagine hearing the organ soar, and I'll imagine you all singing. In harmony. I hope you do. Because at just such times as these the Spirit helps us in our weakness, and our songs become our best prayers.