The British poets have a knack for overlapping prophetic overtones with innovative instrumentals and edgy vocals that run parallel to the sacred narrative of Scripture and real human experience. They take a risk in their music and their message. The result is fertile ground for fresh and faithful dialogue with those who find Sigh No More and Babel significant contributions to their iTunes library.
The lyrics of Sigh No More continues to capture my theological imagination. Lyrics from a variety of tracks have ventured into numerous prayers, sermons, and off-the-record conversations with youth and adults alike.
Then as I drove home yesterday, newly-downloaded Babel blasting through my speakers, I heard these lyrics:
hold on hope...
you were made to meet your maker...
love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free..
They had done it again. This time, the prophets from West London composed a musical score for missional partnerships.
Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve my hands to learn ("Below My Feet")
Tonight, I am teaching a session at Eastern University on the need for youth ministries to rethink how they "do mission." Conversations and questions will be raised about how to move beyond "service blitzes" and into meaningful and long-term relationships where we learn and serve alongside our neighbors near and far.
This song will certainly blare through my car speakers en route and in the classroom during small group activities.
This weekend our congregation will also celebrate Outreach Sunday. We have friends from Honduras and Mexico coming to share with our congregation about how we have partnered and learned alongside one another for the sake of those orphaned and living in the midst of violence and poverty.
This song will echo in our fellowship hall as we package meals through Stop Hunger Now and share stories about summer partnerships.
Said differently, both the class and Outreach Sunday are flooded with opportunities to learn from where we have been as we keep our eyes open and our hands willing to serve and learn in partnership.
I am sure there are many more tracks on this brilliant new album that will stumble into numerous posts, sermons, prayers, and courses. I am even more certain that as the church reframes how it can live into the kingdom of God alongside the poor, oppressed, widowed, and orphaned, hope will not only be something to hold onto but also a reality we enter into. We will enter into hope together, as friends, even family, whose eyes and ears have been opened to see and hear the good news of the gospel made known to us in the person and work of Jesus the Messiah.
This will be the day when Jesus not only tells us, "all is well," but also we can place our stake in the ground and claim it to be true.
At least that's the hope I am holding onto...and for someone to write that Broadway production, too.
[Here is a great TED Talk on the difference between service learning and learning service. This is partially what frames our youth ministry and larger congregations misisonal paradigm.]