Psalm 130:2 – Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
THE BIG RED BOW
My fifth birthday had been celebrated a few weeks earlier, and each Wednesday evening since cake day had been spent learning the song. Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells. Once a week, we would be split into two groups of children rehearsing our parts. These past two weeks, we had rejoined the other group and started singing both parts at the same time. All seem to say throw cares away.
I liked the song. It was fast-paced, and we sounded like Christmas bells. Ding dong. Ding dong. I don’t remember how many of us there were, but it seemed like a very large group to a child of my size. I think we had three whole rows! I don’t remember any of the other songs we learned or the names of the other children. I remember Miss Sue was our adult leader, but I’m sure there were other grown-ups. What I do remember very vividly was my red bow.
On Sunday, just before the worship service began, all the children quickly left our Sunday School classes and gathered in a side room just off the Sanctuary. Each one of us was fitted with a cute little white choir robe that made us look like angels. I loved the fresh smell of starch and the long, bell sleeves. I was sure Miss Sue had ironed all night long.
My robe didn’t quite cover the hem of my new Sunday dress, and I was excited that everyone would get to see how pretty it was. I was especially proud of my patent leather shoes and lace socks. The shoes looked like black mirrors that reflected the ceiling lights. Each one had a shiny silver buckle just under my ankle bone. The socks were striking white with long and droopy lace. I knew they were fitting for a queen or an angel – or perhaps the queen of the angels. Finally, came the piece de resistance: the red bow.
One by one, the adults and their helpers pulled long red sashes from a box. The right length was super important. When my turn came, I was sure to stand perfectly still while Miss Sue placed the sash around my neck and tied a big perfect bow – not too tight, with perfect loops and two exact matching tails. I looked beautiful and was ready to perform. That day, I sang my heart out for Baby Jesus. I know it was just us kids singing, but I think I might have heard a couple of lacy angels join in with a few bells off in the distance. Christmas is here bringing good cheer.
I learned many songs in those early years that I continue to carry with me to this day. This Is the Day that the Lord Hath Made was one of the earliest, and I love that it is featured in our current hymnal. The songs that have stuck with me the most are filled with scripture. Words straight from the Bible set to music has to be one of the sweetest sounds ever created.
This time of year, as we have moved away from Baby Jesus and are beginning to stare straight into the face of Crucified Jesus, the bells are eerily quiet. I don’t hear the angel hallelujahs sing out during Lent; but when I do hear their praises, the sound is less like a birthday celebration and more like awe-inspired reverence.
“Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!” The psalmist is crying out to God for a listening ear. He pleads for attention to his prayers; he sings of his dedication to the hope of God’s Word. He promises to wait for God as is recorded in our own United Methodist Hymnal: “Out of the depths I cry to you; O Lord, now hear me calling… my soul is waiting… no watcher waits with greater hope….” (#515)
Straight from scripture, set to music and landing in our hymnal, my heart continues to revisit what Miss Sue taught us as children. During these final days of Lent, may I remember that voices are meant to sing out the praise of Jesus. The worship of Almighty God is our gift which ought to be adorned always with a big red bow.
PRAYER FROM PSALM 130
Holy God, thank you for always providing a listening ear to my cries. When I feel lost in this world, I know I can turn to you with a song of praise. You will hear me and comfort me, and you will walk alongside me. May I always be willing to wait on you and offer thanksgiving for your faithfulness. Amen.