Accompany them with courage

This past Sunday, we remembered All Saints Sunday. We honored our dead by lighting candles. A bagpiper piped Amazing Grace. In the sermon, I reflected on June Dunaphant. We lost June last year. She had been our accompanist at Haygood for more than fifty years. She was known outside of the church too. The entire Atlanta music scene seemed to know her. She played in all sorts of night clubs and in cabarets. She loved to entertain.

One Sunday morning, I arrived early, brewed some coffee and headed into the sanctuary. I wanted to rehearse the sermon. June was there on the piano.

She said, “Go ahead pastor. I’ll listen.”

I started practicing the sermon. June sat on the bench.

I was rehearsing one of the more climactic moments. June starts up on the piano. No one else is in the sanctuary. She plays a courageous tune. I believe it was A Mighty Fortress is our God. With these fortified notes playing underneath, I could feel my emotions stirred like I was Hamlet, on a hushed stage, delivering my “To be or not to be” speech letting loose with all of the might and courage within me. I stopped and looked at June. “June, I wish I could have you follow me around all day and play music.”

She said, “You and I visit different places.”

Then she said, “But that’s why I love accompanying choirs and people. Some of them can’t sing well. I cover the rough places. But most people can sing and the music is in them. When I play I help give them the courage they need.”

June’s words were perfect for All Saints. We all have more courage and capacity than we realize. Those friends and saints who have before us are accompanying us with the courage we need.

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