I guess you can say Derek Webb's narrative as a musician and artist is somewhat of the story of many within my generation. When it comes to all things Christian and church, we have moved from faith to doubt, trust to disdain, love to fear, and hope to cynicism. Many have repeated this cycle more times than they care to recount. We want to follow, but have been wearied by half-truths and misplaced allegiances. We long to covenant with faith communities and call them our own, yet we have seen through the façade and wondered if it is really worth it. The addage goes, we love Jesus but struggle with the church.
And if we are honest, we struggle with the reality that we are no better than those we critique and cast judgment upon.
In the midst of it all, the lyrics to one of the songs on Webb's inaugural solo album echoes throughout time:
‘Cause I haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church
---"The Church," She Must and Shall Go Free
So we, as other rag tag poets have exclaimed,* hold on hope as we pilgrimage through seasons of faith, doubt, and utter confusion together. We cling to, maybe foolishly, the confession and promise that the day is coming when everything will change and nothing will be the same. We press on with the conviction that Jesus' life, death, and resurrection will lead us all to a better way and a better day.
This is what pushes us beyond our cynicism and moves us towards fresh expressions of love, grace, generosity, and forgiveness even when we don't feel like it.
That being said, I am conviced that Derek Webb's latest album, I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You, is quite possibly his best. It's a humble confession and an honest reach beyond jadded and jagged postures that have characterized many of us.
I met Derek Webb several years ago, collaborating together on the Jesus for President Tour and orchestrating a small show at our church. I was grateful for his humility, authenticity, creativity, and patience as we hunted for phantom power on the church sound board. We have utilized this feature many times since.
We also enjoyed some pretty incredible crab cakes that night.
Yet, over five years later, I am even more grateful for his recent folk hymn that, with raw simplicity, invites us to join the choral invocation:
"One day you'll wake and the curse will break
And even you won't be the same
Your hope is not wasted on the day when everything will change"
"Everything Will Change," I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You
I guess you could say this hope is everything but a phantom power. My prayer is that all of us, myself included, would follow Derek's lead and confess our propensity towards cynicism and move towards renewed love.
* Yep, Mumford & Sons
**Check Out Rachel Held Evans and her blog interview with Derek Webb: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/ask-derek-webb-response
Relevant Magazine has several great pieces on Derek Webb: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/tags/derek-webb