I grew up in a home with an eclectic taste in music. The kitchen radio was always set to the country music station but that wasn’t the full soundtrack of our lives. While my dad had a tendency to have that station on for news and sports updates, I know there were songs that would drift into tune that he enjoyed and still does. My mom on the other hand enjoys a good country love song, but also enjoys the dark side of Johnny Cash, the power of Elvis, the boom of Thunderstruck by ACDC and the gentleness of the Medical Mission Sisters. I grew up with two brothers who were invested into all types of genres including the sounds of Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Shania Twain and Eminem and my sister enjoyed Bon Jovi and Alanis Morrisette. As for me the musical palate includes Dolly Parton, Corey Hart, a touch of The Family Brown, Roch Voisine, Glass Tiger, Serena Ryder and Matt Maher to name a few. All of this came to mind as I reflected on the gospel story about Lazarus, his death and his sisters and their reaction to Jesus (John 11.1-45). Why you may ask?
I was pondering how we all come to different points in our lives from different paths. Much like how each of us have varying tastes in music, our life journeys are unique and a particular song can speak to the depths of one person, to another it can be a faint whisper of a different message or a teeth-grinding 4 minutes. This made me think about how Martha and Mary, Lazarus’ sisters, had come to know Jesus and experienced his message in different ways.
Music speaks to each of us in different ways, just like how the words of life which Jesus speaks resonate differently with each of us. The message in a song can awaken us to the truths of our heart and can also challenge us to live our lives differently much like the parables Jesus spoke and the gospels we read and rely on today connection us to our Savior.
The song, if you will, Jesus was singing when he encountered the grieving sisters was that of hope. It was a message of hope for them then and it is a message of hope for us still today. It was about looking beyond the current moment of pain and hurt and relying on lasting hope. It was a message of hope because in hope is the glory of God, and the light which he knew was within each of them and is in us. It was a message of hope which promised them eternal life, resurrection beyond the current state of life and the agony of loss. It was a message of hope with gratitude for blessings great and blessings small, for an awareness of who we are as God’s children and the consistency of God’s promise of always. It was a message of hope that even in our trials, even when the world around us feels dead or is dying we are called out of our tombs, to be unbound from all which traps us and to embrace life. It was and is a message of hope because hope is about believing – believing beyond ourselves, beyond the lures of the world, beyond the struggles we face, beyond the many deaths we die before we are embraced in God’s loving arms. The song continues on, do we hear it? Can we hear it? Are we too busy busying ourselves so as not to have to hear it? What message is Christ singing to you through the songs of your life, through the messages of hope he gives always?
As we continue another week of self-isolating, public distancing and hearing news that challenges us and the freedoms we have come to need or want where can we find hope? What song(s) do we need to listen to? What is its message for these days and this time?
The story of Lazarus’ death caused me to pause and listen to the song which is playing in my heart. I wish it was all Christmas carols and love songs but it is not, there are songs of lament and songs of being lost, there are songs which seem to stumble along with me and others which cause me to tap my toes. Regardless of the song, I rely on a hope greater than any song. In these days which have felt at times freeing and at other times frustrating I am keeping myself grounded by turning to the One whom I now is “the resurrection and the life” and who will weep with me, but also will raise me up to new heights and who is the full soundtrack of my life. This is hope, yes this is the hope we are promised and for that I say “Amen” and turn up the radio up a bit more.
As this week unfolds may songs fill your home with hope, may their messages lead you to the depths of who you are and may you know the hope which Christ promises us each and every day… life – new life in the resurrection.
“Hope means to keep living amid desperation and to keep humming in the darkness. Hoping is knowing that there is love, it is trust in tomorrow, it is falling asleep and waking again when the sun rises. In the midst of a gale at sea, it is to discover land. In the eye of another, it is to see that you are understood. As long as there is still hope there will also be prayer. And you will be held in God’s hands.” – Henri Nouwen