I just returned, late last night, from a worship symposium held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I belong to a choir called Inshallah, based at the school where I work: Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. Inshallah sings the songs of our neighbours around the world, especially – although not restricted to – the global south. The songs reflect the reality of the communities of their provenance: poor and yet rich with a deep joy; marginalized and yet attentive to a sustained realization of hope; victimized and yet marked by a sure grasp by and of the Reign of God. Our choir is led by Debbie Lou Ludolph, who inspires and coaxes beauty out of some 120 voices, which includes some – such as mine – that have little or no formal musical training. About 70 of us made our way to Calvin, where we gave two workshops and led one evening prayer service.
We travelled by bus, which is always a rich way to be together as a community. A certain comradery evolves in the gift of losing control of our transit and handing it over to the bus driver and tour coordinator. A kind of ebb and flow ensues between busy chatter, and then hushed attention to books, or the scenery, or the evolving landscape of a mind en route. The odd nap envelops those so inclined. You have opportunity to know people differently in this venue.
The symposium was rich. I learned much, met some wondrous folk, and had opportunity to grow more deeply into our repertoire and its community of singers. It strikes me, increasingly, that at the heart of justice is the task of simply being together. Song enables the singers to be together, a phenomenon we experienced anew over the weekend. But as our choir director regularly reminds us, the songs themselves also provide us with a bridge to those who sing them in their own context so that we can be with them, in a fashion. She asked me to provide a blessing which reflected the content of some of these songs at the end of the Vespers service we led. I offer it here for you.
May the creating God, who covets your brokenness, meet you deep in the world’s wounds.
May the crucified God, whose arms wrap the world round, draw your circle wide.
May the spiriting God, who is our grace, our peace, make of you peacemakers.
And may you rest forever blessed in our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.