Programming Note: Look for a short Hymn by Hymn Extra later today.
Last night, I attended a concert, honoring 50 years of folk music at the Eighth Step in Schenectady, NY. The show was – if you’re into regional and national folk – rather a star-studded event: Reggie Harris, Annie and the Crackpots, Brother Sun, and Holly Near. Over and over again, we heard not just great music but about how strong the folk community is and how places like Eighth Step and Café Lena, along with festivals like Old Songs, really make a difference in bringing people together. Over and over again, the people in the audience were recognized as being integral to the power of this music, that folk is a collaborative event between performer and listener, and how we all bring gifts to the moment to create something sacred.
And then I turn to today’s hymn, a short piece with lyrics by Methodist-turned-Unitarian minister Horace Westwood, set to a very square yet surprisingly moving tune (Hamburg). “We bring ourselves as gifts”… Yes. Yes.
Spirit of truth, of life, of power,
we bring ourselves as gifts to thee:
oh, bind our hearts this sacred hour
in faith and hope and charity.
It reminds me of discussions we have sometimes about the three elements of stewardship: time, talent, and treasure. We get treasure and talent pretty easily, but time is harder to suss out. I think this hymn is about the giving of our time, because it is about the giving of our whole selves in that moment, that ‘sacred hour.’ Just as the attendees and the performers and the tech crew and the volunteers all gave of their whole selves for those two sacred hours last night, we can give the same to our sacred gatherings.
May we always remember we are a gift, and we bring ourselves together as gifts to one another.