“Think about the theme of a person’s life,” my dad tells me when we talk about how he prepares to lead a funeral. Like a student identifying the theme of a book, he looks at what a person’s words and actions say about what was most important to them.
A theme in the life of Eddie Barrett, an older member of the church of my youth, was his amazing capacity for joy. Whenever he prayed aloud, he thanked God that deep joy is essential to faith. He would ask God to help us experience and grow our capacity to encompass this renewing gift of God’s Spirit. Sometimes when I pray aloud at church, I include the word “joy” because Eddie taught me to do so.
Gracious hospitality was a theme in Anne Campbell’s life. “Don’t fret about dusting,” she advised her friends, “just turn down the lights and use candles.” Nothing scared her more than a ten-pound bag of flour, she would say with a twinkle in her eyes. Yet she drew people to her home, making everyone feel uniquely cherished by the time they left. She reminded us all that behind every put-together face we see on Sunday mornings are little pools of tears. When I think of the theme in Mrs. Campbell’s life, I want to love the church more fully.
Spending life singing of God’s love is a theme of the psalmist’s life. Like poets who spend years reshaping their work, the writer wants to work on declaring God’s faithfulness forever. When God gives us life, God also gives us a theme to share with the world. May we proclaim our theme in ways that inspire others to find and sing their own.
What theme does your life sing?
God of steadfast love, may the theme of our lives forever strive to proclaim our love for you. Amen.