One of my favorite episodes of the TV show, Friends, was when Ross got tickets to hear the hottest band of the 1990s in concert. I guess I loved the episode because, like Ross, I loved Hootie & the Blowfish. Their music played at awkward junior high dances, giving us something to enjoy while girls stood on one side of the gym and boys on the other. It was easy to sing along. It was easy to dance to their beat, even if the boys and girls wouldn't dance together.
When I turned on the Country Music Awards last week and heard the familiar, husky voice of Darius Rucker, former lead singer of Hootie's band, I squealed like that adolescent girl at the dance with her friends. Joined onstage with Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum, Rucker issued a call for a new beginning with an old song.
Right before Rucker got my toes tapping, Erich Church had opened the awards show by singing the first verse of "Amazing Grace" a cappella. Different songs from different eras and different genres converged on one stage with one call: to receive grace.
Though we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, we can resist fear by reaching out to the one who walks with us. At the end of our worship services at First UMC of West Point, I invite the congregation to extend their hands toward heaven during the benediction: a physical gesture with a spiritual plea. We desire to receive God's blessing, and in order to receive, we must offer our empty hands, our empty selves. Like the apostle, Peter, God has empowered us to walk on water, but how do we reach out for help if we fill our hands with things that weigh us down? Things like resentment, jealousy, and stubbornness?
When Darius Rucker first sang, "Hold My Hand," he was leader singer of a rock band. Last week, he sang it as one of many country music singers. The genre may change, but the message remains the same. We in the body of Christ separate into various "genres" of denominations and worship styles and doctrines. But at the end of the day we are all Peter in need of a hand to hold. Let's dare to get on one stage of prayer and love together, a stage that dares us to dance and calls us to sing a message of unity.
all good things, and open hands, to each of you,