Can I ask you a question… what do you do when you don't know what to do? What do you say, when words feel so empty?
I found myself in that place on hearing the news from Connecticut… I mean what do you say? I was sitting in the library reading the paper where they had pictures of the 20 children who lost their lives, alongside the adults… and I find myself dabbing my eyes. What can you say? For all the power of words, sometimes they can seem so powerless… and this is not just true about this tragedy it's true for many of the losses in our lives… in fact it's also true for some of the great moments. I remember someone asking me about the birth of our son, Matthew. How do you put that into words. Even 17 years later I struggle to find the words to express the joy, the love, the power of that moment.
So I ask you again, what do you say when you don't know what to say?
Throughout history men and women have used song to find their voice. Moses led the people of God in a great song, recorded for us in Ex 15 this on the heels of their great deliverance through the Red Sea. They were overwhelmed with the greatness of their God. Hannah, does the same thing in 1 Samuel 2 in response to the birth of Samuel. David, following his dismal failure penned the words of Psalm 32 and 51. Even Jesus on the cross… sings Psalm 22 Frederick Handel, trying to express the glory of the gospel, found his voice in scripture that is so powerfully rendered in the Messiah. Many of us have probably sang or embraced those words in a way that speaks meaning into something that is beyond words.
That's what Mary does… You might think she's penning her own song, but that's only partly true…. you see she's recalling the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2. The word of God has become her voice. And Mary is not the only one… Jonah from within the belly of the whale, cries out to God… but again, these are not his own words, we find him proclaiming God's word… or should I say embracing God's word as his own. You may find it hard to believe but in his prayer there are more than 10 references to various Psalms.
This got me thinking… This word has the power to give us a voice to us when we've lost our voice.
I can't tell you how many times I have NOT known what to say in my prayers to God… only to discover HIS word on my lips. I have grown up in a tradition that values spontaneity, and originality in its prayers, but the reality is sometimes we can't find the words… I mean what do you say in response to the terrible things have taken place in Connecticut?
I would suggest the WORD… can give us back our voice… in this case to grieve. I found myself reading Lamentations and some of the Psalms of Lament.
Mary, even though she was a young girl still ruminated on God's word. It was a part of her life. I wonder… is it a part of our lives? I'm not talking about just memorising it… some of us struggle to do that, but we can all meditate on it, we can all live into it and out of it and with it.
In fact I wonder, instead of reading God's word for answers… perhaps we should read it to find our voice.
As Mary found her voice… we too can find ours in God's word.