Psalm 147:1 - "Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting."
It is good! It is good to sing!
I was with my friend, Lynn Headley, when her mom, Theresa Rochford, died yesterday, Tuesday, February 13 at 4 pm. Just last week, Theresa and I sang together at her assisted living facility where she was in hospice care. We sang hymns "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and "For the Beauty of the Earth" and other traditional hymns. Theresa loved it and hummed or sang in a very muttered way as best she could, but it's not a stretch to say that she was leading the singing. It is good! It is good to sing!
Some of you might be saying, "I could never sing with a person in hospice care." Maybe you think your singing hurts other people's ears. But actually, not singing hurts you!
Here's a link to a fascinating article that explains what God said long ago: "It is good! It is good to sing!" (http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/12/26/144152193/singing-therapy-helps-stroke-patients-speak-again) In sum, for more than 100 years, it's been known that people who can't speak after injury to the speech centers on the left side of the brain can sing. They can't speak, but they can sing. In the 1970's, Boston researchers started to use a sort of "singing therapy" to help stroke survivors speak again. However, it never caught on much, but in recent years that's changing fast.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who has had a version of "singing therapy," astounded everyone by her ability to speak again after a would-be assassin's bullet tore through the speech center in Giffords' left brain. Giffords' progress came about in large part because Giffords' loved ones, like a growing number of doctors, bought into God's truth: It is good! It is good to sing!
And it's even better when those words are songs of hope and praise from God's word. For just as Theresa attested last week when we were singing while she was in hospice, no matter how physically weak a heart and mind may be, singing songs of hope and praise to God brings real renewal, strength and comfort to both the human heart and mind.
So, maybe for Lent, which starts today, you could take on the discipline of singing a little everyday because God's Word is true. "Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting." (Psalm 147:1)
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson