The Missing Soprano and the Body of Christ

Trabuco Canyon Community Church.

Standing in the Gap

On a recent Sunday morning our trio of worship leaders was only a duo. Sue sat at the piano, Don stood at the mic, tuning his guitar–but Amy, whose lovely soprano weaves its way around Don’s steady baritone, was absent. 
It happened to be September 11. And I happened to be thinking, a lot, about absent people on that sad anniversary. 
As we took our seats in our usual spot, six pews back on the left, I thought of wives turned to widows, husbands left alone, who slid solitary into pews that they once shared with their beloved. I squeezed my husband’s hand, grateful for his familiar calluses. 
We sang Micah 6:8 that morning. This verse always carries me back to my mother’s memorial service, pokes at the hole she left in my heart. Memories of Mom sharpened the focus of my contemplation.  Thousands of people died that day. Each one of them left holes in hearts. 
Amy’s absence began to sting me, even though I knew she was safe, simply delayed. When we sing the chorus of Micah 6:8, Don sings “But to do justly” and then Amy repeats that line. They follow the same pattern singing “And to love mercy.” The song was going to sound incomplete without her.

This day, I began to think, was about losing one’s sense of completeness, about persistent holes in hearts. 

As we reached the chorus, Don sang out “But to do justly,” holding the note just as he would if Amy were there to lay her soprano line over it. 
Then, from the back of the church, I heard two light sopranos reply, adding the echo of the line. Amy wasn’t with us, but others stood in the gap, completing the melody. 
I fought an urge to swivel around to see who was singing in her stead, whose voices offered this gift. 
And then my mind returned to those families with ten-year-old holes, still agape, still leaking pain. I thought about ministry. I wasn’t thinking of the sponsor-a-hungry-child kind, not the stock-the-food-pantry-kind, worthy as those missions are.

I thought about the sit-with-a-grieving-friend ministry, the coach-a-fatherless-boy’s-Little-League-team ministry, the teach-a-dad-how-to-braid-his-daughter’s-hair ministry. 

A prayer came to me: Father, you moved these women to stand in the gap today, to fill a void in our congregation’s worship. You showed me a little glimpse of what it means to be part of the Body of Christ. Please Father, send Your hands and feet to those whose pain today is personal. Show them Your love. Fill the holes in their hearts with the completeness that comes from You. Only and always, from You.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NASB)

(This chapter has much to say about the Body of Christ. Read the entire chapter here.) 


  1. Hi Sheila !
    Your words were PERFECT !! Beautifully put and oh SO TRUE. Had similarthoughts (but from the 5th pew on the left) THANK YOU !
    Kris Shearman

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Kris!

    Sixth pew on the left, fifth pew on the left: we all have our places, haven't we? And the holes are real, even when they're temporary.

  3. Filling in the gap with our own voices….

    There are so many who can't speak becuase of the sin of others, or becuase of sickness or suffering. So we need to step up

  4. You got me with the "teach-a-father-how-to-braid-his-daughter's-hair ministry."

  5. It's strange just what fills the gaps sometimes…and even if nothing fills, there is comfort in the trying. This is a sweet remembrance. Lovely, Sheila.

  6. David,
    Thanks for that reminder of the practical application…beyond "Yesterday was just so….sigh."


  7. Nancy,

    Painful to imagine, isn't it?

  8. Laura,
    Yes, doing what we can brings comfort, doesn't it? As does lifting others up to the Great Comforter. Thanks for your kind words.

  9. Your post truely ministered to me today. "Stand in the Gap." We are often called to do just that.
    Praise God for the willing ladies who filled the void and added their beautiful voices to the lovely hymn.

  10. Thanks, Hazel–I'm humbled.

  11. Jennifer @

    Your post here and Nancy's (about the young man singing in the stadium, forgetting the words) both remind of the power of Christian community. Thank you, Sheila, for this beautiful picture of what it means to "stand in the gap."

  12. Ah, Jennifer, thank you. I wish you could know how beautiful our Amy is.

    Our Body–it's something, isn't it?