Today’s Word by Karl Olsen, TLC Minister of Music…  

For some reason, I was up at 4:00 Saturday morning. Heading outside to let my tea steep, it seemed a good time to count my blessings. A warm bed (now only half full), a healthy family, the beautiful woods, a job I love (and still get to spend time at). Then there were the clouds moving overhead, carrying signs of both the promised sunrise and the promised rain.

And, birds.

We have been busy protecting the blueberries from them, but as with most mornings, they were noisy–busy waking up the kids and talking about worms and bugs and why the neighbors are soooo loud! They were spectacular in their morning songs, accompanied by the wind coming up from the southwest. A glorious start to the day!

Look up the hymns All Creatures, Worship God Most High, or All Things Bright and Beautiful, or When Morning Gilds the Skies for images of beauty and wonder and praise for all God’s creation. There are many other hymns of praise. It is good to spend time there.

Last time I wrote, I mentioned the Lament section of the hymnal. Short, but packed with trials, energy and sorrow. Perhaps it’s not “good” to spend time there, but in this life, and especially during this pandemic, it is important. Hymns like In Deepest Night and When Pain of the World Surrounds Us tell our story, and the story of our neighbors near and far.

Today, Monday, June 1, a number of faith leaders, supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, have declared this to be a National Day of Mourning and Lament, to recognize and hold in our hearts the more than 100,000 people of this land who have died due to COVID-19. You may have seen the video posted last night. It is sobering.

We also recognize those communities that have been hit disproportionately hard by this virus—the elderly, the poor and people of color, and pray that we may find it in our hearts and national conscience to repair the inequities that have led to this situation and bring us all into wholeness in the sight of God.

At noon today, we are invited to join others in taking a moment to remember those who will not return to the family table, who will not make it to retirement, or who will not grow into their full adulthood due to this disease. Their presence is deeply missed by so many families. We are encouraged to light a candle or sing a hymn or say a prayer and ring bells—all so that we might grieve their loss and celebrate their lives. And with God, we can always celebrate as we remember.

The birds heralded the morning, even as I pondered lament. The Jewish people in concentration camps, even as they shook their fists and railed against God for what had befallen them, took time to sing their prayers and praises to God. As people of faith, we remember, we grieve and we sing praise. As I said in my song during yesterday’s communion time, “I have faith that God, through me and you, is making all things new.” And, I do.

So be well, remember, love, grieve, celebrate. I will light a candle and ring a bell today, and see you behind your mask at Payless, even as we are one day closer to being together again at TLC.

Love and blessings,

Here are two songs from TLC members, one of assurance, and one of praise, by Arne Bergstrom and Jana Szabo. It is Well With My Soul, a traditional hymn, and Oh My Soul, by Casting Crowns. Enjoy.