Ugena’s Devotion on Numbers 6:24-26

How blessed I am to serve such a wonderful church!  Thanks, Ugena.




Numbers 6: 24-26


24 “‘”The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”‘


Reflection by Ugena Whitlock


Music With Friends


Numbers 6: 24-26 is not the passage on the devotional schedule for today. It is not unrelated, however, to Luke 24: 50-53, in which Luke describes the ascension of Jesus the Christ into heaven. As Jesus ascends, he blesses the disciples. When I came home to this morning’s worship service and sat down to write today’s devotional, I was reminded of this blessing in the Hebrew Scriptures, in which God tells Moses to instruct Aaron and his sons (the priests) to bless the people of Israel. Actually, I was reminded of a musical version of it that I heard a long time ago. Actually, I was reminded of it during today’s service, which was powerful and poignant. And musical.


Today, after many months of planning and fortifying ourselves for it, we bid Kim bon voyage, happy trails, hasta manana. Now, those of us who are teachers know that summers pass quickly; by the time we pack up the car and go get roasted in the sun on a crowded beach, fall is here. Sending Kim off is a very different circumstance, though, and we may already feel like this is going to be a long, hot summer without her. I think it made it easier for us to send her off-and maybe easier for her to head out-by sending her off with music.


Kim is a terrific pastor; she knows what’ll “preach” (I paid attention today). But after attending PUCC for only a little over a year, it is clear to me that music keeps her blood pumping. I wonder if anybody besides me grins a little when they see she has a song on the program some Sundays and thinks, “She’s slipped one in again…” I will share a story about last week’s choir performance that shows something of Kim’s “musical” pastoral interaction with us. Working together, Allen and Kim chose a new piece for us to sing last week, Let It Go (unrelated to the movie Frozen). We rehearsed it at several practices, but it was kind of complicated to get through from start to finish. As it turns out, we had only sung it completely one time, at the last rehearsal before we were to perform it last Sunday. Allen, who, if I knew who to write to nominate him for sainthood, I would, had scheduled one last, intense rehearsal before the service. Partly because one of the key soloists (me) was affected by every newly blooming plant in Georgia, and partly because it was an acapella song with a key change smack in the middle of it, we kind of petered out by the end. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on Allen’s face.


Kim, who was sitting in the back of the sanctuary listening to us rehearse, mustered up her kindest tone and suggested gingerly to our Director, “Maybe let them stop before the key change….?” There was a moment-just a moment-when I suspect we-the choir and her-panicked a little. Within an hour, that song had to be a whole lot better or half of it had to be cut. I’m not sure if she knew it, but she was pastoring us in that moment. Good pastors nudge you a little; really good ones get you to stick out your chin and tighten up your musical performance. Kim was, that day, a really good pastor. The choir sang that song like we had been working on it since Christmas. (It will perhaps lessen the inspirational nature of the story but make it honest to disclose for those of you who did not hear it that I only missed one note in the song. It happened to be a very important one, but I sang it with joy anyway.)


Today we sang her off. What I enjoyed about the service was that we all sang to her and she sang to us and we sang together to God. A couple of times she stopped us and gave the congregation a dose of “musical pastoring” about singing with the spirit, aka, putting the hymnals away and learning to clap on the off beats. We sang, of course, to God’s glory, yet we sang for Kim. With her, yes, and to her. But today, we sang for her, too. We will miss her for a few weeks, and we will look forward to her return. But one thing is for sure. When we think of her, we will do so with warm hearts-hearts that happen to be filled with music we made today with our friend.


Here is a rendition of The Lord Bless You and Keep You. Until we all meet again.

About reallifepastor

I'm a pastor who's working out her faith...just like everyone else.
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