This line from the hymn “Come, Sing a Song with Me” is a promise that we enjoy singing together. Recently I was thinking about how the song always feels different to me based on what has been happening in the week leading up to the service. It is no surprise, then, to find that its writer, Carolyn McDade, spoke about her own song as needing context. From the UU World:

In the 1980s, the chaplain of the women’s state prison in Framingham, Massachusetts, asked her to come do a music program. She brought the song mainly because it was easy to learn. But the prisoners sang it in a way she’d never heard. She had to stop singing and listen. “That song needs context — “I’ll give you hope when hope is hard to find” — and they had context to bring to it,” she says. “It went from sweet to profound.”

That is how I see hope, all the time, its weight being reliant on its context. Sometimes hope is light and sweet. Oh, I hope you have fun today! But other times, very profound. Given this diagnosis, our dearest hope is for comfort and freedom from pain. Hope is a prayer, a promise, a wish, and sometimes, the last feeling we have left or the first idea when we start to rebuild.

In the winter months, during holidays, in these days when some of our beloved congregants are struggling with severe cancer, this hymn will not seem light to me. Hope is hard to find, and when beloved community stokes its fire in your heart … that, friends, is profound. Reach out to each other, with walks, with roses, with singing. Let someone else know your mind. Get to know someone else’s mind. I hope your winter season is spent in beloved community.

In love with peace,

Rev. Amy