I am entering into a season of ministerial anniversaries! Nearly three years since I was licensed as vicar in this parish, six since I was ordained and five since I was priested!
It was at my priesting that my third choice of hymn – 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman – was sung. I was being priested alongside three others that I had trained for ministry with and we were allowed to suggest which pieces of music we would like at the service. We all agreed that 10,000 Reasons was high on each of our personal lists so suggested it and were very gratified to see it included in the order of service!
The song was written in 2011 and has achieved world wide recognition as one of the most popular worship songs of recent years, winning two Grammys in 2013 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song and Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance. With its catchy melody and powerful words, it is perhaps no surprise that it has achieved such global success.
The song is inspired by Psalm 103 “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being praise His Holy Name”. The lyrics take us on a journey through the day, reminding us of the many reasons we have to praise God and give thanks for all that He has blessed us with.
Easy to sing enthusiastically when all is going right with the world but maybe less so in these days of uncertainty. For many of us the challenge of finding 10,000 reasons to praise our Lord may be far more difficult than it was just a few short months previously.
Yet maybe we will find ourselves discovering fresh aspects of our lives to give thanks for, we will value anew simple pleasures that perhaps we took for granted in the past.
As I write this, it is indeed the break of a new day and I am enjoying a cup of tea, listening to birdsong and marvelling at yet another blue sky. Normally I would already be deep into answering emails, checking my diary, scrolling through social media, planning dinner, etc etc. I would be too busy to simply gaze out of the window and literally count my blessings. I am learning so much more about God’s provision in these strange times than I ever have before and for that I praise Him. I have heard God’s voice so much clearer, I have seen Him in action more vibrantly than I can remember and for that I give thanks.
There are of course many distressing aspects to these times, the unnecessary loss of lives to this devastating virus, the risk that so many of our frontline workers across society are putting themselves through that we might retain some sense of normality in our lives, the loss of education and opportunity that will have on going repercussions for our children and young people, the isolation of the most vulnerable members of society, the loss of income for many, the detrimental effect on mental health….I could go on listing all of these negative outcomes but alongside these I can also list positive outcomes – the simple acts of kindness that can make such a huge difference to someone’s life, the outpouring of gratitude for all those who are caring for the sick and needy, not just in our hospitals but in every corner of our communities, the improvement to our environment, the renewed excitement of contact with our loved ones, whether that be through the wonders of technology, a socially distanced conversation, a telephone call or even a letter! Again I could go on listing the good things and it is those that provide our reasons to praise and thank our Lord. I wonder if we counted them all up collectively we would find we actually had in excess of 10,000? Well you never know, but I do know this – even in the darkest of times, there is always a reason, however insignificant it might first appear, to praise God. A new day does indeed dawn so let us pray that we too will end it going thanks to Father in Heaven and worshipping His Holy Name. Amen.