Old Man Singin’ the Blues

By Regina Girten, Pastor of Outreach

I have a best friend who I have known since I was 12. She is very dear to me. I consider it a great blessing God gave her to me in the 7th grade. She's a songwriter. When Jacob began his sermon talking about songs and words of God that get into our bones, I began to think of Scripture. I also began to hear song lyrics by my friend Lindsey.

She writes folky type music. She's really good at it. One time, she wrote a song called 'Old Man Singin' the Blues.' We grew up in New Orleans, so the blues feel natural. They are sad songs, but they bring great joy. Sorrow for a creative produces joy. The same is true of our Creator, honestly. The song is about a man on the side of the road singin' his guitar. Hearing about his life you would think he has no reason to be singing at all. He lost everything. His job, his wife. It seemed like his life was crashing down around him. But then . . . music. He found his love. He found his passion. And it gave him a reason to go on.

You may wonder how this has anything to do with outreach. Well, I used to travel doing mission work in places like Sierra Leone, West Africa, Cambodia, South Africa, downtown Nashville. In every one of these places I encountered people who on the surface seemed to have nothing. Seemed to be without. And every time, though I may have encountered spirits that felt poor, they were spiritually rich. FILLED to the brim with God's joy. With a rich understanding of community and what it means to be a neighbor. Rich understanding of family. In South Africa, the Zulu tribe calls it 'ubuntu.' It means, 'I am because you are.' It's a concept of common humanity. In the south, we might say, 'we're all in this together.' Or, maybe that is just a quote from High School Musical.

You, see, that old man singin' the blues found his joy because he found a simple purpose in a space that drew others in humanity together . . . that's why he played on the sidewalk. It was not just for him. Across the world I've met men and women who were in need physically, but taught me great wisdom in joy that surpasses need. A joy that comes from God alone.

When I read the Beatitudes, it feels like a message to me for action. While others, like my brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone or my friend experiencing homelessness, read it as a message for them. But, actually, it is both. It has always been a message to us AND for us. What can you find to give you unspeakable, unwavering joy? The Word of God. Music. Dancing. Hearing the birds outside your window. Watching a sunset. Finding joy in the simple task of making dinner as 4 pm rolls around. Perhaps staring out the window brings words to your mind . . . write. Feeling the peace of knowing your neighbor is doing the same thing. Ubuntu. We are all in this together. It may sound like a blues song. But, it brings joy. It brings deep blessing.