Trading My Sorrows at Friday Church by Chris Sanders

FC BandI don’t remember when we first sang it.  I don’t know when we decided to make it our weekly theme songs.  (It’s been years.)  I’m told we don’t play it like the recordings, or like other churches sing it.  I haven’t bothered to check.  I can never remember who wrote it, and I don’t care, because it’s ours now.

“Trading My Sorrows.”  There’s just something about it.  For me, it starts with the stuff only the band sees and only the band gets.  It’s always the first song of the evening, and there’s that moment of anticipation as Joe transitions and says, “Let’s trade our sorrows for joy.”  Then Fred silently counts off “3-4”, and rolls across the keyboard.  He exhorts the crowd as we get ready to sing, then the snare cracks on the 4 count as the drums kick in, and the bass rumbles down below like a happy beast.

And we’re into the verse-

                     I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my shame

                     I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord.

                     I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my pain

                     I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord.

 

Total word count is thirty-six.  Complex theology and missiology it ain’t.  It’s just wonderful.

It’s only four chords, all the way through. For you players, G-C-Em-D, or in standard terms, I-IV-VIm-V, as simple as it gets in rock and roll.  Was it Hank Williams that said country music is three chords and the truth?  “Trading My Sorrow” is four chords and the Gospel.

And that’s what Friday Church is:  simple, raw and real.  Once a week, at the end of the pressures and pains, stresses and strains suffered by people on the edge, we say yes to and yes with God.  Goodbye to the sickness and pain of lost jobs, lost family, lives almost lost to addiction and poverty.  Goodbye to the sorrow and shame that comes with that loss and humiliation.  Yes to the weekly recognition as we remember again that we’re children of the God who actually does love us and still wants us.

DHorton ArtworkThen back into the verse, we’ve sung it once, now we can sing it like we mean it. We really are trading it in.  You’ve gotta sing it twice to even begin to get it. There’s a saying in the black church about why worship services last two hours or more. They say, because all week long we get dehumanized, and it takes the first hour to be reminded and then believe we’re children of God.  In the second hour, we can really celebrate.  That’s why we sing the verse twice. It’s a shortened version of the same truth. The first time we learn it and re-learn it, and the second time we come alive.

And then that chorus.  Three times through on “yes, Lord!” Over and over, yes, Lord!  Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord. Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord, amen. What an affirmation.  God affirming us, and us affirming God.  And we repeat it, still another time. The third time through we sing a capella, with hands clapping high and fists bumps to the sky, as Fred sails on top pushing us farther and higher. People dancing in place in the pews, barely able to contain themselves as we end abruptly with “amen”.

A-men! Not ah-men, Aaaa-men.  Ah-men is reserved, Aaaa-men is glorious.  Amen. “Let it be so.”  The thousand-year-old statement together that we agree, and we want it to be.  Amen to a few minutes spent together every Friday evening coming alive again.  Amen to hoping and believing that there is more, and it is love.   Amen to trading in our sorrows, laying them down, and rising up again in the joy of the Lord.