The Singing Place
Before I had looked to see what the lectionary readings were assigned this Sunday, I had an anthem stuck in my head: "The Falconer", lyrics found here. Suffice to say when I was reading through the various scriptures, the idea of songs soaring in freedom, echoing through the heavens, finding audience with the Divine, of course I was drawn to the story that continued the adventures of Paul and Silas. The story picks up after the end of last week's reading, and the theme of the tale plays around with what it means to be free, and what it means to be enslaved or imprisoned. It reminds me as well of a song performed by the group Sweet Honey in the Rock where one of the women of the group says, "when I sing or drum, I remind myself that while my body is not free, my soul has not human master. That freedom is something I have, and no one can take it away from me."
The truth is we can all be imprisoned to different things in life. In college my friends and I would joke about being "addicted to oxygen" or water, or sleep, or eating. But the imprisonment I speak of is more than those jokes: imprisonment is any element in our lives where we might feel constrained, where we must make certain choices or act in certain ways because to do otherwise would break established codes. In the adventures of Paul and Silas, the jailer who thinks all his prisoners escaped in the earthquake sets up to fall upon his sword - he was imprisoned to the potential blame that would fall upon his shoulders, even if he did nothing wrong. Earlier in the story, other prisoners in the jail with Paul and Silas listen to the two men singing, but they cannot yet join in. They are doubly chained, physically as well as in their souls. Even earlier in the story the owners of the sooth-saying slave girl are imprisoned by the money and influence their property brings to them. We are imprisoned by petty gripes, by feuds that no one remembers the origin, by possessiveness, by fear.
Let us take the lesson of Paul and Silas to heart and live with grace, without fear. When someone has another way to do a task, let us listen, pray, sing, and try. And in the dark of the night, when fears press in, sing a song, even if just in your heart, revel in the freedom to sing praises, soul and song soaring wide and high.
~Rev. Andrea Joy Holroyd