Every week, on Sunday morning, I lead two worship services. And every week, on Wednesday morning, I also lead a worship service -- for about 100 pre-school students, who line up and walk over from the building next door.
I'll admit, when I first considered this responsibility, I paused. I was excited to be interacting with the children, but I thought I could only remember one children's song, "Jesus Loves Me." What was I going to do with 100 pre-school students?
A little later, I remembered that I knew a couple of other children's songs. We could also sing, "This LIttle Light of Mine" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." And I realized that we could pray. We pray together every week. And we tell Bible stories, and sometimes we try to acts things out, although that is, frankly, a work in progress.
One night, I was wishing I knew or remembered a few more children's songs, and I googled a verse I thought I had heard the children singing. I listened to it a couple of times, determined to add it to my repertoire.
On Wednesday we tried it. I told them I had heard this song, and I hoped they would help me learn it. As soon as I started to sing, they sang out loudly -- and they knew hand motions, too.
So now, when we sing it, I refer to it as "The Song You are Teaching Me." I am getting pretty good at it now, although I sometimes still mess up the hand motions. I can't help wondering if there are a couple more songs that they could teach me, songs that they know, but I don't, songs that aren't "Jesus Loves Me" or "Deep and Wide" or "I've Got Peace Like a River." I have discovered that I know more songs than I thought I did, but they probably know some songs that I don't know.
It's true in more ways than one, I suppose. I stand up in church on Sunday, and I lead the singing, and I think that is what I am called to do. I am the leader. I am called to lead the singing, and to teach some new songs, too. I am called to help my congregation sing new songs and see new possibilities, and discover what God is doing among us and in us. That's what I think, most of the time.
But then, for a moment, I think of the children, and I wonder -- what is the new song they are teaching me? They know songs that I have never heard of, or learned.
Every week, on Sunday morning, and also during the week, I am now training my ears to listen: for a new song, for possibilities, for the things I never knew, for melodies and harmonies. Every week, I am asking the question, "What is the song they are teaching me?"
I am convinced that is why God called me here. To learn a new song.
With hand motions.