About a month ago, I woke up at 2:15 in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I knew that it was going to be one of those nights–or mornings. For some reason, in those restless moments, I was thinking about “The Bridge,” our new weekly worship experience that launches this Saturday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m. “The Bridge” is open to all, but it offers a particularly attentive welcome to those individuals and families that are currently accommodating the struggle of addiction or the journey of addiction recovery.
My mind was flooded with both deep concerns and desperate hopes in the hours of my sleeplessness. “Will people support yet another worship experience in our church and in the city of Butler? Have we rightly heard the voice of God on this? How will we sustain this service for the long haul? Do we have what it takes? Do I have what it takes? Will God raise up a congregation that sees the urgency of gathering each week simply to sing praises and to pray and to declare that the Lordship of Jesus holds authority over the drug epidemic of our community? What about the adults and young people of our community who are feeling crushed by the burden of addiction? Will they dare to believe that a place like the the church has a loving and hopeful word that is specifically for them?” Questions. Lots of them. My mind was racing.
Realizing that a return to sleep was nowhere close, I quietly made my way into our basement and sat at the electronic keyboard that we keep there. (A piano or keyboard is often where I place myself when I am confronted with things that are difficult for me to process. I think it helps me to pray.) As I allowed my hands to play some seemingly random chords, a pattern developed. Then a melody. Then a rhythm. Without really knowing what I was doing, I began to mumble these words to the music, quietly and clumsily: “Grant me serenity, to accept the things I cannot change.” When I paid attention to what I was mumbling, I realized that I was giving expression to what has come to be known as “The Serenity Prayer.” Written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930s, “The Serenity Prayer” is still used by millions of recovering addicts and alcoholics as a spiritual doorway into prayerful surrender. In my sleeplessness, I was thinking about my addicted and recovering sisters and brothers and praying the same prayer that is so often upon their lips.
By 4:00 that morning, additional words started to form in my consciousness as I sat at the keyboard. By 5:10, I had an entire song. Songwriting does not often happen that quickly for me. That morning, it did.
So, as the launch of “The Bridge” draws near, it is on my heart to share with you a very rough version of the song that I wrote in those hours. I recorded the song hastily this morning on my iPhone. Please pardon the poor quality of the recording and my pitchiness. I felt a sense of urgency about sharing the song with you just as it is, even in its unfinished and unpolished state. A better recording will come in time.
I hope to teach this new song to the Bridge congregation this Saturday night at our first service. Perhaps it will will give to people a musical way to call to mind, not only a familiar prayer, but also the truth that Jesus is the most trustworthy bridge upon which a person can stand.
Thanks for listening. Here’s the song:
Bridge (words and music by Eric Park)
Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Grant me courage to change the things I can
Grant me wisdom to understand the difference
Grant me strength to stand upon that bridge
You’re the bridge that leads to holy ground
You’re the bridge for captive souls unbound
You’re the bridge across a wildly raging sea
You’re the bridge into a serenity
Grant us patience to live one day and then the next
Grant us mercy, that sins will be made clean
Grant redemption, that life will be as you intend
Grant us grace to travel on that bridge
You’re the bridge that leads to love that heals
You’re the bridge that holds what God reveals
You’re the bridge that sets a lonely prisoner free
You’re the bridge into eternity
It’s a bridge we know will never fall
Come and see, there’s room for one and all
We will hear the call and come to take our part
Jesus is the Bridge to God’s own heart
Jesus is the Bridge to God’s own heart