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From the Front Desk at General Conference 2019

February 28, 2019

Speak to one another

with psalms, hymns, and songs

from the Spirit.

Sing and make music

from your heart to the LORD.

Ephesians 5:19


“Glad you’re here!”

“What would you like on your name tag?”

“I’m not sure, but let me take you to someone who knows that. Here we go.”

Those are probably among the things I said more than any others as part of the Hospitality Team for General Conference 2019.

That event is typically a quadrennial global gathering of elected United Methodist leaders and representatives, and is the only final legislative decision-making body of our church. This was a special called session in St. Louis, February 23-26.

Late one of those afternoons, a group gathered on the balcony overlooking the large atrium entrance hall as the voting delegates were leaving for the day. They began to sing.

The natural acoustics in the spaciousness of concrete and tile gave a phenomenal reverb to their music as it drifted down from overhead.

All of this took place right in front of my assigned station for Walk-In Registrations. I could see and hear it all.

What does the Lord require of you? they sang, answering with the rest of Micah 6:8, To seek justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.

Many in the main floor crowd smiled and nodded.

Some sang along.

A few even swayed to the music, with arms over one another’s shoulders.

Long before this, Friedrich Nietzsche had written, “Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Sadly, some on the main floor personified this.

The balcony singers went into Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. When they got to the chorus, people could be seen pointing at others as they sang and changed the lyrics to Yes, Jesus loves you!

Several decades ago car radios were blasting a song that’s now in regular rotation in the canon of classic rock, Listen to the music. Still pretty good advice in those harmonies.

That afternoon at General Conference the music from on high gave everyone a chance to go out into the early evening humming a reminder and a blessing and a challenge.

At a later point in that same event, I inaudibly heard Bob Marley’s song from somewhere — a memory, or maybe a dream born of necessity — Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights; never give up the fight.

A credit card commercial asks us, “What’s in your wallet?”

Our Lord and a dying world ask us, “What’s in your heart?”

The truthful answer comes slipping out, often in our songs.

Listen to the music.





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