Reflections on Racism and Privilege from a Kingdom Perspective

If you’ve read any of my posts in my “All Saints Diary” tab then you know that I see life through a particular faith lens. You know that I have a tender heart towards humanity and that I see the Creator of the Universe, aka Abba, as more than just a big genie in the sky but as a personal, relatable, reliable person to whom I have deep fellowship with. And not only me, but I see that I am part of a greater assembly of saints, past, present and future all in unity with Christ as our head. I believe whole heartedly that when one falls, we all fall, and when one is honored, we are all honored.  It is through this faith lens, I write to that assembly.

If you’ve read much of the news in the US these days, you’ll find that there is quite a bit of political and civil unrest. All sorts of words are being thrown around; racism and privilege to name a few. They are words I hope to paint a more in-depth picture of in this writing.

First I want to address the concept of identity. Who do you say you are? Who do others say you are?

In his book, Soul, Self, and Society, Rynkiewich suggests that identity is a social construct, set by the greater mass of whatever social construct or family systems that we live in.

For instance, according to my social construct,  I am a white, American woman. These three descriptors identify me and each has a certain understanding attached to it. If I meet someone from another country, gender, or ethnicity, those descriptor helps the other person make sense of who I am based on their understanding and vise versa. Until we each affirm or redefine ourselves to one another, those identifiers set the tone for our interaction.  

*Identity is not personality, likes, dislikes, communication styles, etc…

For better or for worse, identifiers put us into categories of hierarchy and privilege which organizes how our society functions. Thus, if we are on the top of the identifier mountain, then welding power over others is essential in making sure our identities stay in tact. If we are in the valley of identifiers we may fight to find footing to climb up the mountain. Like it or not, this is just the way the world works. 

However, I want to think more about this idea of redefining ourselves to one another, using our new identifiers to set a tone of peace and harmony, advocacy and reconciliation in our interaction. To do so, I ask three questions…   

What does it look like for the social construct of the Kingdom of God to define our identity rather than our worldly society? How do we understand who we are as Children of God? What does it look like to function in the tension of being in this world but not of it?

Let’s start with Yeshua and the kingdom come. A long time ago, one afternoon, a large group gathered on a mountain near the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel. Here, Yeshua laid out what the Kingdom of God or the “Kingdom of Heaven” as some call it, looks like. In doing so, he challenges the social construct of identity and turns everything on its head.

He says things like…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Blessed are those who mourn,  For they shall be comforted.

 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be  filled.

 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Through these blessing in Matthew 5, Yeshua paints a picture of what it looks like for His kingdom to define our identity. These are the markers for what that identity looks like on full display. And so, if we who call ourselves believers want to understand what it means to have our identity in this new kingdom, then we have to understand it may go against everything our worldly society or family tells us. 

In Romans 8:14-17 we are called God’s children: Paul writes, “…For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship/daughtership. And by him, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Ephesians 2:3 we read, that before this transformation or adoption process, we were “by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3). Thus, it is important to keep a confident but humble posture, understanding that it is by grace and not by works that we have been adopted into the family of God. It is a privilege. 

Understanding our new identity as Children of God, we gain perspective on this word “privilege.”  

Privilege simply means unearned rights, rights someone else paid for. (Brene’ Brown)

When we are adopted into the Family of God we are given unearned rights, rights that Jesus paid for. Instead of fearing God as judge, we have the great privilege of coming to Him as our Father. We can approach Him with confidence and ask Him what we need. We can ask for His guidance and wisdom and know that nothing will take us from Him. We also rest in His authority and respond to Him with trusting obedience, knowing that obedience is a key part of remaining close to Him.

And, when our identity is defined by God’s rule, found in Christ we have the privilege to be the light of the world and salt of the earth. We are directed to use that privilege to display God’s glory, to set captives free and to bind up the broken-hearted. This identity has no room for prejudice or racism. We can not call ourselves sons and daughters of the King and have a heart of hatred and exclusion for those the King has created. 

Even the young fella’s who walked with Yeshua, James and John, didn’t get it at first. These are guys that were known as the Son’s of thunder, meaning they were hot-tempered and quick to act. They walked with Jesus for three years, saw him feed thousand with a few loaves of bread and some fish, they saw him heal people, cast out demons and at one point they are on their way to Jerusalem and Yehshu sends messengers on ahead, into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. So, when the disciples James and John hear this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call-fire down from heaven to destroy them?”

What? Seriously, call down fire! Destroy them? They obviously didn’t get Yeshua’s heart for humanity and he turned and rebuked them, saying, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are;  for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” D’oh! 

Fast forward to when they were together for the last time and they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom? Is this the time?”

He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is Abba’s business. What you will get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and… Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”

These were his last words to them as they watched him ascend. However grand that the ascension was, I am struck by his final words to them; knowing how John and James at one time wanted to call-fire down from heaven and destroy a whole people group, I imagine Yeshua looked right at them when he came to this part and slowly spoke the word SA-MARI-A. Interestingly enough it seems John got it, as all of his recorded writings center around the theme of unconditional love and unity in the body. Including the infamous Revelations 7:9 where he records a dream of heaven being filled, not with all of the same kind of people, rather with every tongue, tribe, and nation.  

Lastly, with the context of our identity as children of God, being shaped by the social construct of the Kingdom, I want to look at what it means to live in this world but not of it.

In a letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul calls us “ambassadors” for Christ:  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us”. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

Generally speaking, an ambassador is a respected official acting as a representative of a nation. Sent to a foreign land, the ambassador’s role is to reflect the official position of the sovereign body that gave him or her authority.

Our new identity as Children of the King, completely changes our relationship with God and our families, just as it changes the way we see the world. As we go through this world, we represent the Kingdom, that is our nation and it is our responsibility to reflect the “official position” of heaven. And, when we walk in the confidence of our identity shaped by the Kingdom of God, then words like “white privilege” or “rich privilege” no longer evokes a feeling of shame or defensiveness but rather, empowers us to use our unearned rights to represent the official position of heaven, which is love. 

This is not just an individual perspective, this is our corporate identity. In our cultural context, we tend to read the “you’s” throughout scripture as an individual “you.” However, that is not the correct context. Except for a handful of times, “You” is collective.

We are collectively a part of a heavenly, God-ruled kingdom. That is the social construct that shapes our identity. 

I have had the privilege to see Abba turn the story of racial hostility upside down and I want to share this final field story with you. Over the past two months, He has woven us together with kinfolk who understand their identity as Children of God and Ambassadors for the Kingdom. The following is an account of Abba’s Glory seen in and through those who call themselves the body of Christ.

We witnessed and participated with believers in Muskegon MI, Elkhart, IN, St. Louis, MO, and Denver, CO. These were all congregations representing every tongue, tribe, and nation. And, although English was the dominant language in each of these churches, some of them offered translation in Spanish, some in French.

The messages were on:

Matt 5:14 “being the light of the world,”
2 Cor 5:11-22 “the ministry of reconciliation,”
Eph 2:1-8 “being adopted into God’s family.”
1 Peter 2:11-23 “living Godly lives in a warped society.”

We sang African spirituals. We worshiped in Swahili, and in Spanish. In St. Louis we saw 20 Elders stand and pray for a couple they were sending out. Of the 20 elders, three were white! That’s in a city where the Government has called a state of emergency because of racial discord and civil unrest! I actually had to film some of it because I was so inspired by these Saints commitment to each other and to God. (video below)

They preached the gospel and they worshiped with all of their hearts!

Then this week I spoke in Salt Lake City on Eph 2:11-22, with a conclusion that when, the church, views herself in the light of this passage, that it is impossible for her to be conformed to the divisions which exist in society.  It is her nature to be the place where divisions are healed. (William Radar)

Let it be so! This is the work of our Abba.

 

 

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Changing Skin

It’s been two years since we ditched the bus to roam around the globe to learn, listen and encourage. We’ve been to nine countries in that time and written story after story about that season.

We detoured back the US in November of 2016 and when we left Australia in November, we arrived minus one Holland. Our daughter, Graciana, stayed back in Australia to navigating the world of “adulting.” We have watched from afar as she has learned some hard lessons. Good Night! What a paradox to go from being so engaged in the development of your child, catching them when they fall, to then having virtually no ability to reach out and soften the blows. And yet, she has rallied and it has been a joy to watch her begin to fly!

For the past six-month we’ve been in Phoenix, AZ. (our longest stop in six years!) and have been just soaking in good family time. While here we have been journeying alongside my parents as they both went through a sort of metamorphosis, getting their new skin as I like to call it. They have both been working through their difficult cancer diagnosis. My father, battling an aggressive Prostate cancer and my mother with a slow growing non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  It has been an absolute joy to participate in daily community with them, lending a helping hand and watching them both overcome the obstacles set before them.

I have always loved my parents but I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this intense time with them has allowed me to fall in love with both of them in a new and fresh way. They are each so unique and fantastic in their own right and together they are team Price!

I have loved just sitting and listening to them reminisce and share stories of their lives. Some of them stories I have never heard before. If I could have kept a recorder going the whole six months, I would have. For now, those precious memories have been captured in my mind’s eye.

Over the months, we watched them go from about a three to an eight and as they continue to exercise, sharpen their minds and use food as a source of healing, they continue to excel. My dad has had a rebirth of creativity and over the time we’ve been with them, he has designed websites, written books for 2BRealMen and written curriculum for an online class for his Twisted Thinking Transformed material. It’s been a blast to watch him soar! Then, this past week we all pitched in and moved my parents into their awesome new apartment. They are happy and healthy, ready for a new adventure! And, as we leave them, we are expectant that it will be the richest chapter of their lives.

The season of backpacking/global travel, releasing our daughter into the big wide world, dovetailed by our current stop over with my parents, has been the most difficult and most engaging two years of our journey thus far. We have experienced a refining in ways that are still manifesting and will most likely be for the years to come. We have discovered that like the honey bee, we are built to pollinate. We launch, refueled and ready to ignite love, truth, and life…to any we meet along the way.

We’ll kick start our six-month journey in Phoenix, AZ and route north to CO then jog east to MI, loop back west through UT, then north to Calgary, Canada! Then west to Vancouver and south to LA, finally back to PHX!! That will take us approximately 8000 miles. Our hope then is to fly back to Australia for another trek around the globe. More info on our actually routing HERE…

Lastly, it’s been brought to my attention that I need to ask more often for help/support. So, if you feel led to give monthly, so as to spur us on practically but also build up our faith, you can do so at MODERNDAY.

Thanks for caring for us with your faithful prayers and encouraging words this past season. We look joyward to continuing to share the love and stories along the way.

 

Re-membering

Re-membering
 
Like a thief in the night, betrayal has come and it's all out war. 
 
Time stands still in the wake of denial, as the bombs hit the floor. 
 
Disheveled and dismembered, our sundered bones are flung here and there as a high pitched hum rings in our ears. 
 
All is an echo of what once was. 

Harmony is silenced, completely silenced, broken, paralyzed by the nuclear lie that your life matters more. 

But, you are me. We are we. And the betrayal affects us all. 
 
We, like the sea-pen roaming the ocean floor, polyp attached to polyp, each with a purpose, not one less, all attached to the core. 
 
Some say forgive and forget but we know that the forgotten prolongs captivity.

Remembering is the secret to this redemption we all long for. 

So come one, come all, bring your missing, dead, and broken pieces.

It is this 'Re-membering' that will heal our wounded souls. 
 
May we re-member so that our collective melody, harmony and deep bass lines can all be restored.

Betrayal is one of the most relationally debilitating experiences one can have. It evokes feelings of rage and engages that dark part of the soul that longs for revenge, power and control. When one is betrayed, they are wounded and without the proper antidote their wounds can fester into victim stance, whereby one believes he or she is always morally right, is not responsible or accountable for their actions, and is entitled to sympathy from others. Looking through an habitual lens of victim stance leads to perpetration, for a victim is consumed with regaining lost power and will eventually take it from others in some manner. Thus, the one betrayed becomes the betrayer.

So, what is the proper antidote?

In his book, Sin, Fr. Hugh Connolly talks about the idea of “re-membering” as a process which calls to mind the deepest convictions and possibilities of people, encourages them to heal forms of dis-memberment and to work toward a better, more integrated society. In order for re-membering to happen a sincere sense of humility is an essential for both betrayer and betrayed. That is, to see past what others do to us, we must be willing to “look in the mirror” so to speak.

For the betrayed, although it is counter intuitive, resting in this humility empowers the victim, as it keeps them from falling into the trap of becoming the betrayer.

For the betrayer, confession, admission and acknowledgements of responsibility and ultimately of personal depravity are necessary purgative, purifying and ultimately healing acts.

When both parties take these positions, a healing tone is set and the cycle of discord can be broken thus allowing for re-membering, reconciliation and restoration.

 

The Collective Mother Bear

Drawing by Matthew Klaas de Witte

Even as a child, I had a natural bent towards the warrior role of “mother”. I find strength in compassion and I know I’m not the only one. In fact, when I began to dig into the folklore around mother figures, I found some fascinating stories, especially those revolving around the idea of the “Mother Bear”. Archaeological findings dating back to ancient times, suggest that in particular the Lion, the Bear and the Elk tend to be the symbols of “mother”.

Stories of the Great Bear Mother have been traced from the earliest times throughout the colder northern hemisphere, from Finland to Siberia to North America. She even has a constellation in the northern sky called Ursa Major. Moscow’s coat of arms also includes a She bear who carries a double axe. In Britain, based on this early veneration of the Great She Bear, we find the mythic hero-king Arthur, named from the Welsh Arth Vawr – Heavenly Bear. He was believed to be the spouse of the Celtic goddess, Artio – the Great She Bear. The Ainu of Japan, who are descendants of early Siberian migrations, still retain their veneration of the Bear in both legend and ritual. We see her roar fiercely in the ancient writings of Hosea and for Native Americans the Bear is one of the guardians of the Four Directions.

The stories go on and on as she continues to make her appearance with different names throughout history. The ultimate theme in all of these stories is that the Great She Bear, advocate and protector, whose animal fur, skins and body gave warmth and food was revered as an awesome Ancestor Mother of human beings.

Everyone has a mother, love them or hate them. Some have been abandoned by their mothers and some scorned. For those downtrodden baby bears, the Great She Bear roars. You know her, she’s the neighbor, the teacher, the grandmother, aunt, coach or older sister that stands in the gap, raising the standard and setting the example. It’s a beautiful gift. For many of us this instinctual compassion is a tender response to a broken world.

However, there is a very real temptation for all of us who feel this natural tendency towards Mother Bear, to take this very precious gift and distort it into something wholly unnatural and damaging. Where instead of understanding this role as a ‘collective’ we decide that our will is more important than that of any other Mother Bear. Believing that we are “THEE” Mother Bear, we manipulate and interject our will upon a baby bear irregardless of whether that child already has nurturing from their own mother.

In Twisted Thinking Transformed, Author Jerry Price, calls this an ownership attitude; where one person believes they have the right to take ownership of another person, place or thing that does not belong to them because they believe they deserve it. This sort of thinking creates endless examples of double standards and confusion. It’s the same attitude seen in the Hebrew story in which King Solomon of Israel ruled between two women both claiming to be the mother of a particular child.

The story recounts that the two mothers were living in the same house, each the mother of an infant son. One of the babies died. Each adamantly claimed the remaining boy as her own. In order to settle the dispute they went before the King. The King called for a sword and declared his judgment: the baby would be cut in two, each woman to receive half. One mother thought the ruling fair, but the other begged Solomon, “Give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!” The king declared the second woman the true mother, as the true mother would surely give up her baby if that was necessary to save its life.

We don’t know all of the back story as the scene really focuses in on the Kings ruling. However, we do see that these two women lived with each other, so they were in some sort of relationship, maybe even friends or relatives. The woman who had an ownership attitude was so distorted in her thirst to be “THEE” Mother Bear that she was even willing to sacrifice the child so that the other woman could not take her rightful place.

How many times have we seen this story replayed, where a mother bear who is actively trying to nurture her baby bear encounters another mother bear and finds out that the person she deemed an ally, someone who could support and uplift, was betraying that trust, maybe even with good intentions.

It is so important for each of us to honestly recognize the temptation to tether with another’s baby bear and God help us if we ever overstep our position in another child’s life and thus cast a shadow on that mother/child relationship! It’s true, many of us have been the victim of this sort of betrayal but it also true that many of us have been the betrayer. It is crucial to the collective whole that we all be bona-fide about our own missteps and seek a better way. It will take humility, a healthy active ability to really listen to one another and a promise to be for one another.

And so, from one Mama Bear to another, I propose a treaty.

This is a promise to all the She Bears out their nurturing their baby bears. It is written in first person perspective in hopes that you, as a reader, will identify yourself as the Mother Bear and make the pledge also. If you agree with this treaty, please sign in the comments. If you find that there is a heart-felt promise that you’d like to add to the treaty please feel free to add it in the comments.

Artio, Celtic Goddess of Wild Life, Transformation and Abundance by Judith Shaw

THE MOTHER BEAR TREATY

To all fellow Mother Bears, from every tongue, tribe and nation. I promise that I will be for you and not against you.

I promise that if I encounter opportunities to come alongside your baby bear that I will understand that position as supplemental, not primary.

I promise that, as a fellow mother bear, I will work to engage with you without judgement and will look for ways to encourage you in your primary role.

If I have no baby bear of my own, but resonate with the collective Mother Bear, I promise that any encounters I might have to come alongside your baby bear will be seen as supplemental, not primary.

Whether I agree with your parenting style or not I promise that I will not manipulate your baby bear with jabs that threaten the foundation of your relationship. Rather, I will try to find ways to build your relationship up.

If your baby bear comes to me with a complaint that involves you, I promise that I will listen without bias and will encourage your baby bear to make every effort to reconcile with you.

I promise that if my good intentions towards your baby bear falls short and you take offense, that I will be open to hearing your heart and to owning the pain I may have caused, making every effort to reconcile with you.

Likewise, if you, with good intentions towards my baby bear, fall short, I promise to communicate the impact of that pain openly and allow room for you to make amends. If you make amends, I promise to not harbor any bitterness.

If my baby bear hurts your baby bear I promise that I will hold my baby bear accountable and do everything within my power to bring my baby bear to a place of remorse and guide him/her towards reconciliation with your baby bear.

If your baby bear hurts my baby bear, I promise that I will hold your baby bear accountable and will make every effort to communicate the damage to you. If your baby bear approaches with humility to apologize, I promise I will also listen with an open mind and move our babies towards forgiveness.

It may be that we or our baby bears are just not going to get along, in that case, we will walk away graciously and hold no grudge.

I promise that I will not use my words to condemn or shame you. I promise that I will not speak about you to other Mother Bears with any sort of mallace or ill intent.

In conclusion,

I promise to uphold this treaty, to protect the sanctity of the collective Mother Bear, and once again, to be for you, not against you.

Signatures:

Jana Holland, just one Mama Bear in the collective whole.

Fellowship In The Red Dirt

Only a handful of cars passed as we drove eight hours north from Coober Pedy on the two lane highway. It was the red dirt that called us to the center of the Australia. Hours passed with not a word, just the hum of the van and the slow motion of our breath. We stopped several times along the track to touch the unusual crimson sand. It was enchanting, mysterious and unlike anything we had ever seen. As our eyes delighted in the arcane landscape our minds began to wonder off. The rhythmic monotony of the road was comforting and as I sunk into the richness of the deep red, ancient words came into focus.

“Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.
If your sins are blood-red,
    they’ll be snow-white.
If they’re red like crimson,
    they’ll be like wool.

I contemplated that first line. It was true, I was unsettled and ready to hash it out. I delighted in the relational nature of a God that was willing to argue it out with me. Then memories of the past twelve months began to flood my mind. Memories of new people and new places. So many new experiences to digest and to try to make sense of.  I realized I was full to the brim with newness almost the point of bursting. I was overwhelmed with the stories of kinfolk we had met along the way. Some were stories of overcoming great obstacles, while other were filled with such betrayal, suffering and heartbreak.

I had witnessed injustice face to face, through the eyes of so many who have been oppressed by empires and religions. Then I watched a mighty storm roll in from afar, as those I loved began to war against one another in online forums. And, then there was the recent news of my fathers ailing health which sent me spiraling, wondering what I was doing in the middle of the desert, when I just longed to be home.

There is a flux between faith and reason and I was wrestling to find the balance; questioning what was the point to all of our suffering and rightly so! In his book, God, Medicine and Suffering, Stanley Hauerwas states that suffering creates a silence which is not easily shared. Oh! the silence.

As the miles of red dirt passed, my soul was overwhelmed at the uncertainty and I wept. I pressed into Abba’s heartbeat like a child to her mother’s breast. Then He whispered, “I am with you.”

I was reminded of Jesus last recorded words which were translated from the original Greek to English, “I am with you always—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion, even to the end of the age.”

I don’t have many answer to sweeping philosophical or theological questions about suffering and evil but I do have a divine community of care that has made it possible for me to absorb the waves of suffering that may threaten to destroy.

It’s not wrong to ask tough question but those questions cannot be divorced from the power structures of the social situations they reflect. When we turn the Christian faith into a system of beliefs that can be universally known without transformation; then that faith practice becomes a civilization religion or what I call Empire Christianity.

It is empire Christianity that creates the ethos necessary to sustain the empire rather than being a set of convictions about God’s work in Jesus Christ.  It is empire Christianity that makes the assumption that good must ultimately triumph, otherwise the universe, as well as, the social order is incoherent.

However, in my faith practice as a Jesus follower, I recognize that suffering cannot be separated from my calling to be a new people made holy by transformation. That transformation is inseparable from fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is that assurance of community that has made it possible for me to push past the silence to tell the stories.

I’ve heard it said that it is the gift as well as the burden of the artist to tell the stories, to break the silence.

The Psalmist shows us the way and teaches us to tell the story of suffering. The psalmist teach us that Abba can handle our complaints. These laments are meant to name the silences that our suffering has created and bring us into communion with Abba and with one another, to rage that we see no point to it all. And yet, our very acknowledgement of that fact makes us a people capable of living life faithfully. In fact, our willingness to expose our pain is the means that Abba gives to help us identify and responsed to evil and injustice, pain and suffering. It is through lament, through story that we find our way out of the silence and back to the light.

Physically, the red track led us to Alice Springs but spiritually the track led me back to the heart center.

Psalm 80; God Implored to Rescue His People from Their Calamities.

To the Chief Musician; set to [the tune of] “Lilies, a Testimony.” A Psalm of Asaph.

You brought a vine out of Egypt. You drove out the nations, and You planted it.You cleared the land for it. And its roots went deep and filled the land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shadow. And the tall trees were covered with its branches. 11 It sent out its branches to the sea, and its new branches to the River.12 Why have You broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its fruit?13 The wild pig from among the trees eats it away. And whatever moves in the field eats from it.

14 O God of all, we beg You to return. Look down from heaven and see. Take care of this vine. 15 Take care of the root Your right hand has planted, and the branch that You have raised up for Yourself. 16 They have burned it with fire. It is cut down. May they be lost when they hear Your strong words. 17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, the son of man you have made strong for Yourself. 18 Then we will not turn away from You. Give us new life again, and we will call on Your name. 19 O Lord God of all, bring us back to You. Make Your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.

 

Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace

Grace doesn’t deny the existence of sin. Grace provides the remedy.
Grace doesn’t deny the existence of sin. Grace provides the remedy.

Come Thou Fount, one of the most famous hymns out there today. Set to the American Folk tune, Nettleton, it has been covered by David Crowder, Jars of Clay, Michael Card, Phil Wickham, Chris Tomlin and a million other worship bands. Even some of our favorite folkies like Sufjan Stevens and Mumford and Sons have covered the song.

I’ve always loved this hymn, but if I’m honest, I really have no idea what most of the lyrics mean. You know, with all the founts, fettering and Ebenezers, constraining and interposing… So, I thought I’d look up the history and come to find out the song was written by Robert Robinson in 1757 and is autobiographical in nature. Robinson writes the song as a confession of a proneness to wander away from the Lord. It is a song about repentance and redemption!

Those who have recorded Robinson’s story tell it this way. In his youth, Robert Robinson was apprenticed to a barber in London and was quite the party boy. One day he heard a sermon by a preacher named George Whitefield.  There was fire spewing from Whitefields lips as he spoke on the stern words of John the Baptist to the Jewish leaders of his day. “Brood of vipers!” He shouted, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matt. 3:7). Anyway, during the sermon, the Spirit of God took hold of the wayward young man and he put his faith in Christ.

Associated with the Wesleys for a time, Robinson served as a pastor in several churches. He wrote a number of works on theology, and two hymns that we know of, ‘Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee,’ and ‘Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.’ However, in his later years he drifted away from God rambling and stumbling back into his old pit.

Robert Cottrill, newspaper columnist, radio host, and long-time contributor to the Cyber Hymnal tells the rest of the story:

"Although Robinson was in broken fellowship with the Lord, that one day, the author was traveling in a stage coach. His only companion was a young woman unknown to him. In the providence of God, and not realizing who it was she spoke with, the woman quoted Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, saying what an encouragement it had been to her. And try as he might, Robinson could not get her to change the subject.

Finally, he said, with tears in his eyes, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who composed that hymn, many years ago. And I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I then had!” Gently, she replied, “Sir, the ‘streams of mercy’ are still flowing.”

He was deeply touched by that. As a result of the encounter he repented. His fellowship with the Lord was restored through the ministry of his own hymn, and a Christian’s willing witness."

The last stanza is often left out. It is my favorite:

O that Day when freed from sinning,
I shall see thy lovely Face;
Clothed then in blood-washed Linen
How I’ll sing thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransom’d Soul away;
Send thine Angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless Day.

May we continue to sing songs of repentance (sincere regret or remorse) and redemption (absolution) and may we find our comrade, Robert Robinson’s journey back to Jesus an encouragement of God’s faithfulness to us.

And, may we hold fast to the reminder that the author of Hebrews exhorts.

"Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame; and He has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 TLV

By the way,
Fount means; a source of a desirable quality or commodity.
Fetter is a chain or manacle used to restrain a prisoner, typically placed around the ankles.
And Eben-Ezer is from a reference from the book of Samuel and means stone of help

Sing it with me…

Moon-fession

hi, it’s me

the moon

i have a confession to make

i have no light of my own

there i said it

it’s true

i am just an empty

dark

lump of rock

floating in the sky

but, you say, “we have seen you light up, full splendor, oh so bright”

well sure, most have seen me light up

some have even given me names like super and blood and blue

however, i am only the star of the show because the Sun has made me whole

you see, it is the Sun that gives me light

it is the Sun that makes me bright

without the Sun, I am nothing but an empty

dark

lump of a rock

floating in the sky…

…i feel much better now

how about you

have you any confession to make

quote-in-confession-we-open-our-lives-to-healing-reconciling-restoring-uplifting-grace-of-him-who-louis-cassels-339982