We live in an age where words are valued. Words as abstract art, poetry, language and music. We value artists such as Mumford & Sons, Sara Bareilles, & Of Monsters & Men , Tori Kelly & Ellie Holcomb because of the melodious stories and pictures their lyrics weave. The genre is “Singer/Songwriter” because of the stories they tell – we don’t typify them as pop music, even though they are some of the more popular of our generation. Lyrics like the following:
Cover your crystal eyes, and let your colors bleed and blend with mine – Of Monsters & Men
Love, it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you. It will set you free – Mumford & Sons
You loved me because I was fragile, and I thought that I was strong.- Sara Bareilles
Your love is like visual sound, like a dream so vivid – Tori Kelly
In the shadow of the valley, I am dying for you to make me whole – Ellie Holcomb
We value the beauty in these melodies and the way they lyrically flow off the artists tongues, into our ears and minds and we repeat the lyrics over and over. We identify with the ideas in the lyrics and the feelings behind them. Yet, we often forget about the melodious quality of the book containing the most precious songs, the most beautiful poetry and words with the highest quality of art: the word of God, our Bible. Passages such as:
because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath – psalm 116:2
He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge – psalm 91:4
you are altogether beautiful my love, there is no flaw in you – song of solomon 4:7
you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good – genesis 50:20
And my personal favorite from the prophets:
“Let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24)
In light of the Charleston tragedy last week, social media has been flooded with posts tagged #prayforCharleston, as well as the thoughts, feelings and insecurities that are raised by events of this nature. People were killed. Our streets cry out for justice! We demand that there be recompense for actions such as these – yet, what are the people of AME offering? What have the reactions of those who have suffered most been to the perpetrator of the crime?
They have continued to love – they have requested prayer for their own – they have requested prayer for change. They have not acted out. Of course they want justice, but they have not retaliated in hate. They have shown mercy. My heart delights in their ability to show mercy, but my mind wants justice.
“I want to love these neighbors, in their death, better than I love myself. I want to mourn them with honor and I want God to squeeze every ounce of His glory out of this that He can. I want to fight for justice in their name, starting with the yuck in my own heart. I want to be quiet and be loud and do whatever God asks to love them well. I want to love all my neighbors, better than myself. In honor of these neighbors of mine.” – @JessAConnolly
The above statement is from a pastor’s wife in Charleston, who has been very vocal on what the other communities in Charleston are feeling during this time. She’s turned it introspective, to say what can I learn from this tragedy for my personal relationship? I love her words in saying “I want to fight for justice in their name, starting with the yuck in my own heart.” Isn’t that we all desire?
The Message version of Amos 5:2124 reads this way “I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice–oceans of it. I want fairness–rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s what I want.”
I believe this is the age for mercy. This is the age, like never before, that we show the love of God beyond the church. This is the time for us ladies to embrace our femininity in showing emotions, creating intimacy in our communities and having hard conversations which include justice…and mercy. This is not the time for the church to ignore the tragedies amongst us in favor of yet another program or conference. It is the time to show mercy.
The melody of mercy is a difficult one to sing. It requires our weakness to be made whole in His strength. It requires the strength of Mary Mott who reached out to Jeffrey Dahmer and send him Bible studies as he sat in a Wisconsin prison cell. It requires the meekness of Esther, and the obedience of Ruth. Mercy is “
The next time you hear a pretty song, think about the feelings and emotions behind the lyrics. What is the melody singing to you? Is it positive? Is it light? Is it darkness and negativity? Does it show hope to the listener? How are you showing that hope to another?
Let tragedies like these not define us, but let them direct us. Let them not be forgotten as the victims heal and the criminal is brought to trial. Let them change us. But for the grace of God, there go I. Let the melody of mercy be the song we sing today.