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Saturday, January 16, 2010

What Song Would You Sing?

Like you, I was following the rescue efforts in Haiti. I know two of the three United Methodist Committee on Relief personnel who were trapped under the Montana Hotel: Sam Dixon and Clint Rabb. They're not close friends, but I've had conversations and dinners on occasion over the years with Sam. Clint Rabb has been here in Minnesota in the last few years. When I heard that they were missing, I had the experience of "praying without ceasing." I thought and prayed for them all the time; they were on my heart and mind.

I was at a meeting with the bishop of the third UMCOR personnel, Jim Gulley, and Thursday evening we stayed up late talking. As we parted company to go to our rooms, we sighed, thinking that these are about the three most resourceful people we know...and they haven't found a way to contact anyone yet. "It makes me lose hope," I said. I couldn't imagine what their families were feeling.

I was getting ready for bed when my hotel phone rang. It was the other bishop, telling me that she had just received word that all three of them were alive. Again, I couldn't imagine the joy their families were feeling!

Gulley who received fewer injuries, according to early reports, said that he and two other Haitian personnel shared a stick of gum and a Tootsie roll pop, prayed and sang hymns together as they waited 55 hours to get rescued.

My thoughts and prayers were with those I knew and now they were rescued even as they yet recover from their physical, emotional and spiritual injuries. Now my thoughts and prayers are centered on the Haitians who have experienced generations of misery and suffering, and now this. Why, God, would this happen to a people who are already in such dire need? We pray and then we respond. I hope you will give to UMCOR through your church or online (

Have you thought about what you would do if you were trapped like that, waiting for rescue and unsure what any minute could bring? Suffering from lack of food and water and even air? Wondering if people would hear you or look for you? Would you give up hope? Would you pray?

Would you sing? What would you sing? Would you quote scripture? Which scripture?

In addition to the 23rd Psalm, I might turn to: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1)

What about you? What would you sing? What would you quote to keep your spirits strong? WDYT?


Bishop Sally Dyck said...

Since posting this blog, we have learned that Sam Dixon has died. It appears that he died before he was freed from the rubble. Certainly it makes it clear that while we think we have all this modern technology and ability to communicate wherever and whenever, it's not always the case in the midst of such a disaster. Please join me in praying for the Dixon family. All the more so, like Sam many people spent long hours at the end of their lives trapped and alone. What would you do? What would you pray? What would you sing?

Bishop Sally Dyck said...

Again, I want to report that Rev. Clint Rabb has also died. Please keep all families from Haiti and our own country who have lost loved ones in your prayers.

Also, please feel free to put a prayer for Haiti on this blog site.

There's a hymn posted on General Board of Discipleship under their worship department that I would like to share:

In Haiti there is anguish that seems too much to bear; a land so used to sorrow now knows even more despair. From city streets the cries of grief rise up to hills above; in all the sorrow, pain and death, where are you, God of love?

A woman sifts through rubble, a man has lost his home, a hungry, orphaned toddler sobs, for she is now alone. Where are you, Lord, when thousands die, the rich, the poorest poor? Were you the very first to cry for all that is no more?

These are the first two verses of a song written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.

Carol E. said...

I have never been in anything this horrific, but a few times I have felt frightened when I was alone in the dark, and then I sang hymns. I don't remember which ones. Almost any hymn is a comfort to me when I am afraid.

Another time, when I served on a jury for a murder trial, when we were sequestered, and I was feeling quite overwhelmed, I paced back and forth in my hotel room and recited the 23rd psalm.

Anonymous said...

I would hope that my mind and heart would be focused on the blessings of life and, yes, I believe that would make me sing. With each infilling of oxygen to open my lungs I hope I would remember that the spirit of God first gave me breath and fully enjoy each new breath I might still take.

Heather E. said...

We have cried and prayed in our household with the loss of Sam Dixon. He was amazing - his heart, his love, his humor. We have prayed in our churches and sang that hymn with both choirs, taking special offerings. We are grieving for the people of Haiti and thinking what else we can do. But the question you ask is not one I have ever considered - I respond in the lives of others affected by disaster, but have not thought about being trapped myself. I am not thinking so much about what I might do, but what God might do through me. I have several phrases of faith and assurance that bring me comfort and those would flow through me, often unconsciously. I would hope that I would have the opportunity to listen and pray with and for someone else trapped with me. Being alone would be harder, but singing could bring comfort ("Be Still My Soul"). Thoughts and memories of my husband and my children would bring grief and joy. I know I have had a good life, yet I must admit I might ask for more time.

Rick E. said...

I would recall and share Romans 8:35-39, Romans 14:7-8; Psalm 23; 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; John 16:22. I would sing "How Firm a Foundation," and "Through It All." I would pray the Prayer of St Francis and the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition.

Mary Maloney said...

Many thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of Sam Dixion and Clint Rabb and the many other mission workers who were there or even close to this disaster. A friend sent this quote to me on the loss of my sister "Death is not the extinguishing of the light-it is the putting out of the lamp, because the dawn has come".
Thankyou Bishop Sally for your insightful leadership. Prayers are with you always. Mary maloney

Leigh said...

This makes me think of how much Christian education has changed - more learning styles are embraced and there is less memorization. When I was sitting with a woman who was dying of cancer a couple of years ago, she would recite the Bible - that woman knew more scriptures and hymns by heart than anyone else I have known. And she had an amazing strength and sense of peace.

I wondered at that time if our kids will know enough scripture and hymns by heart to be able to recite them in such times of disaster and fear. Myself, I wasn't raised in the church, and so lived many years without being able to recite a verse.

I like the old gospel hymns like Stand By Me and I Want Jesus to Walk With Me; and Psalms 23, 40 and 121.

erinmichelle said...

I can't imagine what it would feel like to be in that kind of situation I can only hope the Lord would give me the strength to sing as I tend to do whenever I am scared, lonely, or bored.
This I think appears in the new supplement hymnal:
"Why should I feel discouraged,
why should my shadows fall,
why should my heart be lonely,
and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion,
a constant friend is he.
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me.
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me."

My mother was the organist at our church as I was growing up and I have so many hymns memorized. I have worked at several UM camps and love singing my campers to sleep or singing outside to keep me from being scared of the dark!
Other favorites: "Be Thou My Vision" "Seek Ye First" "Deep River" Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" "It is Well"

In peace and love,
your sister in Christ~Erin

Anonymous said...

I would sing "Father Make Me Holy" by John Michael Talbot. And I would sing it over, and over, and over.

Alan M said...

A Favourite scripture passage; and one of encouragement and reassurance; Jeremiah 29:11; songs and hymns would include: Amazing Grace; How Great Thou Art; The Old Rugged Cross; and "Hark The Herald Angels Sing"

StaticMadness said...

I would sing it is well with my soul. making it a prayer to the father...for sure. i would remember Isaiah 26:3 in my head over and over "you keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you" as well as psalm 86, a lot of good stuff...