Saturday, December 27, 2014

Let No Tongue On Earth Be Silent

For most of the last year I have learned the habit of carrying my hymnal with me to the communion rail.

I sing while I walk forward.
I sing the words of the communion hymn as I wait for others to be fed with the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.
I sing the words as I walk back to my pew.
I sing when I sit in my pew while the rest of the congregation is fed.

Through all this singing, I've learned something about this new habit. It is a good act of Christian piety.

My mind wanders far less now that I have the words of the hymn in front of me than it used to when I  didn't carry my hymnal.

I always knew that I should be pondering nothing earthly minded. Like the clothes of other parishioners, or if I was going to trip over my own feet, or when the kids were younger, "Are they behaving in the pew?" But try as I might, my eyes and ears often led my mind away from prayer and pondering into distraction.

Now that I carry my hymnal and sing the words, more often than not, my mind is focused on Christ. That He is truly present. That He is feeding me His very body and blood. That He forgives me. That He loves me.

This past Sunday when I communed I was kneeling at the rail during the first verse of the hymn, "Lift up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates." (LSB 341)

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates!
Behold, the King of glory waits.
The King of kings is drawing near;
The Savior of the world is here.
Life and Salvation He doth bring;
Therefore rejoice and gladly sing.
To God the Father raise
Your joyful songs of praise.

What a beautiful picture those words bring when sung at the communion rail. As the words
"The Savior of the world is here," were sung, Christ's body was place on my lips. Because I had just been singing and reading the words of the hymn, I was focused on what actually was happening at that moment. Jesus is my Savior right here, right now, and He brought me life and salvation right then in His own body and blood.

Yes, this new habit of carrying my hymnal and singing the hymns while waiting for my turn at the table of the Lord's Supper is a good thing. Just like I've learned to fold my hands and bow my head and close my eyes to pray, I've now learned that hymns are a great way to keep my mortal flesh silent.

No comments: