United Methodist Women

Spiritually Speaking
April 2019
By: Brenda Anderson-Baker
Mission Coordinator for Spiritual Growth
I’m trying to cultivate some deeper peace in my life this Lenten season, when upheaval and disorder seem to surround me. There was the crushing disappointment of the special General Conference of the UMC. There’s the ongoing turmoil in the political arena. Now, even my very home, which is undergoing some renovation projects, is in utter disarray. Chaos reigns. I’m going to confess to a somewhat odd Lenten practice. During the evening Ash Wednesday service in the Friendship Room, it occurred to me that I should sing for the next 40 days. Now, I can’t sing – at all. I have zero musical talent. I’m convinced that even Jesus would prefer I lip sync in church. But I envy those who can worship through music. And I know we are called to praise and glorify God. So I decided to sing. I don’t really know why, but, for better or worse, I’ve decided to honor that nudge. The very next morning, I opened the Upper Room Worshipbook, which is used for music and liturgy in The Academy for Spiritual Formation, my most important spiritual home. I sang my way through several songs with my creaky, rusty, early morning voice. Then I came to a song called Canticle of the Turning. (I looked to see if it also appears in the hymnal or either of the supplements we use at BUMC, but it doesn’t. You can listen to it online though.) We sang this at the Academy, but I hadn’t remembered what a hopeful message it offers:
My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn!
With its jaunty Irish melody, hope abounds in the lyrics. “My spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.” “Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast.” When chaos surrounds me, can I remember that God is in charge? When change happens far too slowly for my liking (or far too rapidly), can I remember that we are living in eternity – in God’s time – already? And then as I sang it over the next couple of days, I realized that it came from Mary’s Magnificat. You know, the song she sings when Gabriel comes to her. Part of her song tells of the transformation of the world, when power shifts and the poor are fed. In other words, the world is about to turn. God is in charge. It struck me that this song of Advent came to me in Lent to remind me that, however chaotic life seems right now, God is at work. May we all find comfort and trust in that thought, whatever might be happening this day.