…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. Ephesians 5:19 (NLT)
We noticed him immediately—front teeth missing with a toddler cradled in his lanky arms. He had quietly stood in line for his breakfast taco, beans, and pineapple and respectfully participated in communion. Then suddenly, the margins at the Mexican border were filled with his clear and melodic voice as he burst into song. It wasn’t just a brief little ditty. He sang on and on with bursts of staccato phrasing—obviously, a canticle of praise. And we were all touched and moved beyond that border feeding station.
A small group of church folks had come from afar to see for ourselves the “crisis” on our southernmost point. We had talked with government officials and their loved ones; had witnessed ordinary families waiting to be freed to unite with their families; had seen people hopefully awaiting the buses that would take them to their new homes; and we’d listened to ranchers whose multi-generational families had populated the border.
Already on sensory overload, we filled wagons of food prepared by faithful volunteers and made our way across the concrete link that was the gateway to dreams for which so many had risked their lives. We knew people would be waiting for the breakfast that would sustain them until the next act of kindness would be proffered. As I pulled my wagon, I anticipated a scene of chaos, disorder, grasping from the ragtag I thought would be awaiting us.
Instead, we were greeted warmly, and lines quietly and patiently formed in front of us as we set up our makeshift cafeteria. One by one Cubans and Hondurans, Mexicans, Guatemalans, and others took their plates with, “Gracias,” “Dios la bendiga,” or heavily-accented, “Thank you.” No pushing, no grabbing, just quiet gratitude.
And then two clergy in our group set up communion for anyone who wanted to remember our Lord’s great sacrifice. We were drawn together from many places and many experiences yet shared Jesus as we worshipped. And that’s when he broke out in song. The song that clearly recognized Jesus and our fellowship as we praised God together. The song that transcended the suffering, the setbacks, the disappointments that may have been felt. The song that proclaimed the love of Christ in the midst of a broken world and the song that would, ultimately, heal that world.
It was a song we all knew…
Father, be with those people who are searching for a place to be free and safe and where they can worship you without fear. Thank you for allowing me to participate in a foretaste of what it will be like as we, from many tribes and tongues, stand around your throne and worship. AMEN.