Cloud of witnesses

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
There are a lot of Korean pastors in the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church. At our Annual Conference session this past week one of our Korean colleagues was preaching. He ended his sermon by singing a Korean song, which he said was about love shining a light in the darkness. Of course we couldn’t understand the words, but it was a beautiful song, and he’s a very good singer. Toward the end of his song I gradually became aware that he was not the only one singing. There were others in the congregation, Koreans who knew that song, who had spontaneously begun to sing along. They grew in number and richness until by the end there was a whole chorus, full and vibrant and beautiful, dozens of them scattered among the several hundred of the rest of us, singing in Korean, blessing us, encouraging us, surrounding us.

I imagine it was a powerful moment for them, for their culture and language and heritage to have such a voice among us. It was the other side of Pentecost. But it was a moving moment for us anglos, to find ourselves amidst a community we didn’t even realize was there, a hope and a promise and a love that people were carrying around among us unsaid, and it had been there, unnoticed, all the time, but suddenly here it was in full voice—and we were in the middle of it!

God One, yet God is community, evident among us. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, saints and angels who keep the faith, bear the hope and pray the prayers that sustain us though we do not see them. Most often they are among the outsiders, not paragons of the dominant culture. But they are among us. Only occasionally do their voices rise above the clatter and chatter of the world. But they are there. They sing in a language we can’t know, and we are not given to grasp the Mystery of which they sing. But their song is of love. We are serenaded by the chorus of the Beloved every moment. They do not insist, but they invite us to be still and listen for them, to be washed in their song, and to wonder in gratitude and joy.

I will not hear even bird song again in the same way.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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