I wonder what your ‘new’ is this year. Are you looking out on January 2017 with your spirits singing or plummeting?
Psalm 40 was set in church today – and we heard how God lifts us out of the pit we’ve got ourselves into and how in response we ‘sing a new song’.
U2 (Irish multi-platinum selling rock band) wrote their song “40” from this psalm. The story goes that their 1983 album, “War” needed one more song but they were running out of recording time. Bono (lead singer) reached for a bible, read psalm 40 and they spent literally 40 minutes on it – 10 writing it; 10 recording it; 10 mixing it and 10 minutes playing it back.
The refrain “how long?” is a big question – how long is it till I can sing a new song?
We don’t like waiting. How long? might well be a genuine question to some urgent predicament or troubling impasse in our life.
How long till I hear one way or another if it’s terminal?
How long till I realise my unrealistic dream, at present sunk in the miry clay?
How long till I can trust other people enough to be myself and not to be afraid that in some way I will be inadequate?
“How long, sing a new song…” is the haunting ending of the U2 song, famously chanted at their concerts by adoring fans, but also lifting the singers beyond themselves into a generalised cry of humanity – “How long, till justice rolls down like rivers, and righteousness like a never ending stream?”asked the prophet Amos.
It’s an age old cry.
But till we find out how long, we find strength in the assembly of all God’s people, where the psalmist says “I have not been silent about your loyalty and constant love”. For a Christian, church is where we remember we are not alone. In worship – music, prayer, scripture, breaking of bread – we find our new song.
A new song of identity and a new purpose to keep on keeping on.
As “Blue Monday” approaches (third Monday in gloomy, Brexit-Britain with no George Michael or Victoria Wood to share it with) Psalm 40 is a good psalm to sing.
What will be your new song this year?