My church has not had a choir for about 10-15 years. And this large brown filing cabinet with boxes overflowing next to it in the church office is full of sheet music and photocopies (oops) and sample scores. For 10 years, we have not used a single piece of music... and in fact, when we brought together a special choir last spring, most of the music was too difficult and too many parts for us to use.
A faithful member walked into my office the other day. She has been working on passing on some of the music to the local community choir, but they are more interested in music with accompaniment CD's rather than the sheet music with piano scores we have. So she volunteered to pay the postage to send the music to someone who really could use it. With so many tragedies and natural disasters this year in Alabama, Missouri, and even here in Iowa, certainly there were churches who had lost their collections of music.
So I put out a general announcement via facebook searching for a home for this music.
A church less than 30 miles away responded. Salem United Methodist Church, three years ago this month, was underwater when the Cedar River flooded. Three years ago, three temporary worship spaces ago, they had a choir room full of music they had collected through the years. And it all washed away down the Cedar. It was all left covered with muck.
Three years have passed and they now find themselves in a new home. And settled, though busting at the seams in their new gathering space, they were eager and excited about the possibility of having filing cabinets full of music once more.
While my mind immediately went to those places that have recently been hurting, when I first got the word about Salem UMC needing music, my heart sank. The churches in Tuscaloosa and Joplin and Varina are not ready for choir music. They are probably still sorting through rubble. They are probably still trying to figure out what to do next. They are still grieving, and they have a long journey ahead of them to recovery.
The thing about healing and rebuilding is that it cannot happen over night.
Whether it is rehabilitation after an injury to your body, or repairing a damaged relationship, or restoring a structure that sustained damage... it takes time.
Just ask the residents of New Orleans... Just ask the people who lived in Czech Village or Time Check in Cedar Rapids... Just ask that neighbor who had a heart attack a few years ago, or your family member who broke a rib... just ask the couple across town whose marriage was strained by adultery or the siblings who didn't talk for seven years after a falling out.
There are a few places in this world where miraculous healing occurs in an instant... but I know of very few of them. And even when the healing does come - like in the scriptural stories of the leper or the hemmoraging woman or the demoniac - it is going to take a while to figure out what to do next... how to live your life without the disease or the illness or the demons that plagued you. Relationships might never be the same as they were before. You will have discovered something about your self or others that changes who you are and what you value. You may not want to get back to your old "normal" at all.
My church has been through its own ups and downs throughout the years. We have had our good times and our bad. As we are being re-energized by God, we pray that we simply won't be what we were in the past. And part of that is letting go of past ideas of "success."
And so, this morning, seven boxes of sheet music found a new home. And a flooded out church choir finds itself, three years later, further down the road to recovery.