WHAT. A. YEAR. It’s been wild. I think it will take a good few years of reflection to discover how exhausted we are, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The effect is going to impact a generation I would say. As I write, my poor Church of Ireland folk are getting used to doing Communion out of small plastic cups. Every Methodist and Presbyterian is cheering it on. The poor Common cup, abandoned. Terrible!!! For me that isn’t something I have to really get used to as I have used the little cups before, but for seasoned church goers in my church it is a massive shift from the norm. What even is normal now anyway?
We all have had to deal with this time in different ways and developed our own vices to cope. Some have picked up running, built home gyms, become a master chef and practically every youth worker in the world is now a seasoned pro at running Zoom and recording online services. I remember seeing that in the job description…I SWEAR!
For me though, what has helped me through it all, has actually been music.
I love Spotify at this time of year – the music streaming giant rolls out the ‘Spotify Wrapped’, which basically takes all of your listening habits for the year, examines them and puts them into a nice little playlist for you. In previous years for myself, such bangers have included ‘Days of Elijah’, ‘Set a Fire’ and ‘Bow down and Worship Him’. Unreal songs in my opinion and they have carried some of the weight of what I was thinking/feeling at the time. I could listen to one of them now and be instantly transported to the time when I relied on that song. My music literally became a soundtrack to my life.
My listening habits this year have been a bit different to previous years. I spoke in a blog a while back about grief and its impact and when I look at my Spotify wrapped that’s all I see. I see sad songs being played on a loop as I circled the drain of apathy. In a WhatsApp group I was part of, that was praying for someone with cancer, someone shared the lyrics to a song when the person died and I instantly, without even thinking, listened to that song non-stop, almost training my brain to associate that person with the song. It was my way of grieving them and training myself to remember them, although I can say with confidence I am never going to forget the words and wisdom of Karen Harris.
You have probably heard in some worship songs that have a live version, where the singer will say ‘sing a new song’ and then everyone breaks out singing different things and it sounds like Ignite trying to sing Happy Birthday on Zoom. I’ve been wondering what my song would be. What whisper can be heard in my heart and soul and mind that confronts me with the truth of who Jesus is to me. Where do I find inspiration from the lyrics of songs and hymns that portray the truth of what I’m feeling but can’t put into words. I’ve no issue admitting that often my tears have done the answering for me and I’m reminded that God gathers up our tears, he remembers our hurts and sorrows and is with us in them. Then there will be that day, the day above all days where there will be no more pain, suffering and every tear will be wiped away! Wow. I think about that image a lot and the best I can compare it to is that every wrong, every injustice every single pain will go like breath on a mirror. There for a split second and then gone, not to be seen again.
One of my top songs this year was ‘Living Hope’ by Phil Wickham and I have found great comfort in the words, even bringing tears at times, depending on how my day was going. But the power of these words adequately describe my hope, it describes our hope. This virus is a time that will pass, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever and has been with us every step of the way through this ‘breath on a mirror’.
“Then came the morning that sealed the promise Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion Declared the grave has no claim on me”.