It started as just another aggravating earworm.
You know ‘earworms.’ They are the phrases of a sticky song that get into your brain, make a home and just play and play. Ad nauseam.
Sometimes an earworm is purely instrumental, like a few bars from Fur Elise, or the theme to Star Wars. But my earworm brought words, too. And I noticed that it often made me smile and could brightened my mood. I bet you’ll know the words and will hear the music as you read this:
The kingdom of this world is become,
The kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
And he shall reign forever and ever!
King of kings and Lord of lords!
Forever and ever!
Sometimes Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus came into my mind when I heard the unending TV news playing all the political wrangling in my barbershop. Once it came, confusingly, when I heard about the death of a friend’s father when my friend was far from her family, serving with Serge in a distant country. When my friends struggled, when I floundered, when the country argued incessantly, I often heard in my head and heart, over and over: “The kingdom of this world is become…”
I would find through tears in the strangest moments a sense of comfort, even of joy, as the song came silently in my heart. And I began to join in silently to myself, “King of kings. Lord of lords. Forever! Forever!” And often with the song came some sense of wonder and gratitude in the middle of whatever daily misery or happiness I felt. And the feeling often swelled and remained.
I was reading Romans when my earworm first appeared. There I read the gospel summed up in a phrase: confess that Jesus is Lord… It reminded me of Philippians: confess Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father. The music brought to mind hidden but real gospel truths that my heart needed to hear: there is a king; forever; he came to rescue me; he reigns even now; forever; he will come for us and brings life, justice, peace…shalom, forever. And my heart would sing the song again.
What the Spirit began in me with this “earworm” is a treasured gift for these days. Alongside the first chorus, I am also starting to hear “Joy to the world! The Savior reigns…” I also heard snatches of Scripture in my grandfather’s voice. He would recite memorized words from Luke 2 before the gathered family: “And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree….”
I still hear, “King of kings… forever and ever.” Despite the news today. Despite the pains and fears. “Fear not: for I bring you good tidings…” King of kings. Forever.
Our hearts and heads are unique. The Spirit’s blessing of intrusion brings grace to you and me differently. You may find Him in your reading. You might journal ideas in reflection that point your heart to heaven. You might hear Him in the children’s play or the prayers at church, in a favorite verse, in a familiar liturgy, in the quiet moments of meditation. Or maybe what I am singing will also get stuck in your heart.
Regardless of the differences, I pray you will begin a new year by hearing and touching again the power and the glory and the song of our Jesus who reigns as Lord and Savior over this present age. I hope that singing and remembering His love and power brings you peace on earth during this season.
King of kings! Lord of lords! Forever! And ever! Hallelujah!