Is it Serendipity or Providence?

The word “serendipity” was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip.. The princes, he related to, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.”

Last Monday I wrote an article for two of our local newspapers on one of my favorite hymns: How Can I Keep from Singing? I wrote it in the context of physical therapy and the arduous tasks involved in recovery from a near fatal spinal cord injury. On Tuesday I decided to use the lectionary passage from Ephesians – Making Melody to the Lord, with an emphasis on singing as an integral part of worship. Unbeknownst to me we were to have a guest soloist, the daughter of a couple in our church who is a professor of voice in a college known for its music. On Thursday I was totally surprised to hear that she was going to sing How Can I Keep from Singing? 

The worship service came together like no other service in recent memory. Her singing was wonderful; my preaching was inspired; and the congregation sang with passion, spirit – and even harmony! I wouldn’t have missed that day for anything. We Presbyterians love serendipitous moments but we are more thankful for God’s Providence and the way He brings everything together – all the time!