Here is the fruit of my latest songwriting efforts: “Daughter.” It was inspired by a verse that I recently rediscovered, one that both haunted me and gave me hope during my transition from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to what ended up being a couple of mostly secular years:
“How long will you waver, O faithless daughter? For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth…” Jeremiah 31:22
It’s a verse that seems to fit all my wanderings in and out of organized religion, but it also seems timely given the conversations happening across the modern day church about the challenges it faces. The verse preceding it even makes plain that the question is directed not at a single person, but to God’s people on earth: “Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities.”
These are tough times for a model of organized religion that was built around a set of social assumptions that are no longer remotely accurate. For those that cling to the outdated loveliness of this sinking ship, the future seems full of fear — emptying pews, mounting bills, and the looming end of church as we know it. But we must learn to see through the fog of all these worries, and to see the church as God sees it — as the body of Christ, constantly being made new. We are passing from one season to another and being renewed together — change is coming, whether we want it or not, but we have the choice to either shrink from it with fear and trepidation, or to seize it eagerly as a light of hope and a bright new chance to dive deep into God’s restorative work in the world.
Lyrics are below:
I was sitting in the park knitting yesterday evening and having an imaginary conversation with a friend of mine. I do this a lot, actually. I’m not crazy or anything, but the conversations help me to sort of process my thoughts, and this conversation in particular is one I’ve more or less had — in reality — with a number of different people.
Anyhoo, this conversation was with a certain friend of mine — let’s call her… Cordelia? Cordelia. Like many of my friends and acquaintances, Cordelia isn’t a very religious person. She may believe in something beyond the tangible world, but doesn’t necessarily buy into the organized religious aspect of spirituality. In our conversation, she was a little uncomfortable and even semi-apologetic to me for this, knowing that I am very religious and somehow expecting that I would judge her or think less of her for not being “churched.” I assured her that nothing could be further from the truth, and went on to observe that, in his letters, Paul lists faith among the different gifts of the Spirit, leaving open the suggestion that some (or many) people won’t have faith. But we all have gifts and we are all moved by the same Spirit and I told Cordelia that I knew she had wonderful gifts, gifts I have personally seen her share with others to teach and nurture them and help them grow. I told her that I believed that God created all of us and loves all of us no matter what we believe, and that nothing could be more pleasing to God than that God’s gifts be used for the good of others. Then she asked me a question I didn’t know how to answer. “Why should I go to church, then?” Well… why should she go to church? Continue reading
They might sound kind of like the one I just wrote. Haha. All through the Easter season, there’s been one piece of the communion liturgy at church that really stirs me up whenever I hear it:
“O God, you are Breath: send your Spirit on this meal. O God, you are Bread: feed us with yourself. O God, you are Wine: warm our hearts and make us one. O God, you are Fire: transform us with hope. O God most majestic, O God most motherly, O God our strength and our song, you show us a vision of a tree of life with fruits for all and leaves that heal the nations. Grant us such life, the life of the Father to the Son, the life of the Spirit of our risen Savior, life in you, now and forever. Amen.”
I think it’s such beautiful and moving imagery. It’s a great reminder to always be on the lookout for God in all things, to catch glimpses of God’s spirit as it moves through the world with an infectious and mischievous delight, stirring our hearts up to love. Anyhoo, once again, I found myself on a test day in class with a pen and a scrap of paper and words that began to flow through my brain. This is what came out. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a great songwriter, but hope you enjoy it anyway. The lyrics are also posted below.