I often imagine the upper room where Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples for one last time. It was there in the midst of the supper that he announced that one of his closest friends would soon betray him. The ultimate betrayal was at hand. This was the eve of an ending. It was there in the upper room, amid the ancient ritual, that he instituted the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. It was the farewell worship. And the service ended with a hymn: "And when they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." (Matthew 26:30, NRSV). If your eyes blur or you rush too fast through the text, you might miss it.
And when they had sung a hymn, . . . . I have often wondered: So, what was that hymn? What were the lyrics that they sang and shared as the end came? Would the song echo in Jesus' soul as he faced the cross? Would it inspire him to be faithful rather than fearful? Would it sustain him as death drew near?
Well, I think I may have finally heard the song. It's not in my hymnal, but it is in the music of Carrie Newcomer, who sings "You Can Do This Hard Thing." I share that song in this post, because I need courage to be faithful to my calling. All disciples need courage today to follow where Jesus sends them. We need courage to be the Church when there is so much anger and conflict among us, around us, and within us. We need courage to do the hard thing--to face into our own endings, to carry our own cross in hope of life--glorious, new, and abundant life. We need courage to embrace the future and to discover that joy dwells there within us..
My prayers are with friends in nursing homes, those enduring treatments in hope of healing, those retiring from a lifetime of ministry, and those leaving home for the first time or the last time. I think of the little children who face an uncertain future around the world and right here at home. I imagine those seated on the front pews at funerals--on the mourner's bench. I pray that they will all have a song, a hymn that reminds them to be hopeful and alive.
So, I share this song with you, my friends. May it touch your hearts and transform your fears as you face into the trials and transitions of your own life. Let us sing and serve with courage and hope and joy.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, be with you now . . . and always.