“The time has come Oh Lord for us to leave this place. Guide us and protect us and lead us in thy grace. . . .” This closing prayer is sung weekly by the congregation at our church. It is a unifying, uplifting communal blessing. Until one Sunday, I noted that the choir was not in place because the women’s ensemble had sung that day. The closing prayer ends with a four-part Amen. My mind went on alert and wondered if the worship leaders had planned for this. What was going to happen when we got to the Amens?!
“God bless us and return us to this fellowship once again.” Altos sang, “Amen.” And then all the tenors scattered through the congregation sang, “Amen.” Then the sopranos and basses sang. Though not in their standard places of service, all the choir members sang their parts. Relief seeped through my anxious spirit. I had worried in vain.
The example of the choir members who sang out their parts whether robed or sitting in the pew got me to thinking about how we are to serve no matter where we are. If you spend your day encouraging people through pastoral visits, be sure to carry that encouragement to the preschool teacher who cares for your child and the waitress at the restaurant who helps get dinner on the table. In all aspects of your life, use your gift. Sing your part.
I am one of those people who operate with a plan A, B, and C at all times. For me to flourish, I need to cover all the bases. Therefore, I am frequently devising plans for circumstances that never occur. The choir reminded me that God’s people are often among us and very willing to sing out in our time of need. Once this moment had occurred in worship, I found myself paying attention to the many times a day that someone steps up and takes care of a situation. When I expect people to live out of their giftedness and skill set, I no longer need so many alternate plans.
Not because it is the end of the worship service but because it is the blessing, I anticipate our congregational closing prayer. I am thankful for the choir who showed me that doing your part is not reserved for a time and place. They have inspired me to “sing my part” throughout my daily life.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, mother of two amazing daughters, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.