A new song
…he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God…
Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)
I remember that the messages lit up my phone screen. First, ‘Is God a tree?’ Then, ‘Is he leaves?’ Followed by, ‘Where is God’s house?’ They were sent by the mother of a six year old boy and three year old girl: the questions that the children were asking her. All three had come to church recently with my wife and me. The children would stay at our house regularly, for days at a time. The ‘go-to’ item for us, if the children became fractious, was a video clip sent by phone of their mother singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ – it worked, they would be transfixed!
The mother sent her own questions: ‘Where does the soul go?’ and ‘How can all this be everything?’ and ‘When a person dies, how can that be the end?’ She stated that she forgave everyone, and saw forgiveness as very important. We didn’t realise that she was preparing.
When Jess walked down to the river in the city and carefully arranged her belongings on the cold riverbank, my wife and I had no idea until we saw her face on news and social media the next day. Her last message, in German, was ‘I love HIM and I’m so very grateful.’ My wife arranged communications with her estranged Catholic family for the COVID-constrained funeral. I was asked to write a Catholic service for her. I included Psalm 40.
Sometimes things don’t mend in this time. Sometimes people can’t reach out. In a broken world, there is brokenness, and we all share and contribute to it, until Jesus returns. But because we share brokenness, it can also be where empathy lives. Empathy can lead us to new things: a new song.
I also looked at this scripture through the lens of the website ‘inspired-motherhood.com.’ The Hebrew word for new – ‘chadash’ – also means ‘to renew’ and ‘to repair.’ Psalm scholars agree the term ‘shir chadash’ – ‘new song’ is also described as ‘the song of thanksgiving’.1  This ‘new song’ of Psalm 40 is a song of thanksgiving, and also of renewal and repair. A new song is available to us through every single moment or trauma. So even in devastating brokenness, hope exists.
Broken Jess, with overpowering psychological illnesses, somehow still managed to introduce her children to God. A bigger gift than ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’, the Holy Spirit, shone through her breaks to help Jess teach her children a new song.
Heavenly Father, I ask for wisdom and guidance and strength to see brokenness that may be mended, and for a new song to be sung by broken people of this world. I pray for the children in care, who currently have extended family reaching out to take them into their home, that all things work out for the good. Amen
Study by Andrew Montgomery
About the writer:
Andrew Montgomery is a Deacon in the Edinburgh congregation of Grace Communion International
Gilmerton New Church
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