This week, our songs were gathered around the theme of grace. Below, you’ll find the list of the songs and artists. Clicking the song titles will take you to the lyrics. Below the songs, there is an example of one way you might think of these songs in light of this week's theme. If you want to talk about any of these, feel free to comment at the bottom of this page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heart Won't Stop by John Mark and Sarah McMillan
Amazing Grace by Citizens & Saints
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United
Hope by Jameson McGregor
All the Poor and Powerless by All Sons & Daughters
How They Fit In:
There are many ways to think about the significance of songs and the way they fit together–-this is simply one way you can look at these songs in light of this week’s theme.
Heart Won't Stop: We sang this song to begin our time together proclaiming the relentless love of God that breeds a grace that isn't contractual or begrudging, but is instead a passionate force that is born out of God's decision to be God-with-us.
Amazing Grace: We sang this song to think about the fact that the grace of God does not simply extend forgiveness to us that we don't deserve, but is something that transforms us into people who are more like Jesus.
Oceans: We sang this song to think about God being with us as we navigate our lives, specifically the more chaotic territories of life. The grace of God is not something that merely affects us in the end, but in the midst of life.
Hope: I've been working on this song for the better part of a year. For a long time, I only had the lines, "You lit a fire in the darkness the darkness did not overcome," (loosely pulled from John 1), and "You sang out Hope into the dead of night, and it echoed off the edge of time," (which I pulled from an Advent song I wrote called Light). Sitting with this, I started to wonder what this "darkness" or "night" might be in the scope of this song. I thought about what I would label dark points of my life, and the dark times I've walked through with friends.
I thought about the alcoholics I know. They tell me that their addiction is a life condition--it's not something they're going to "get over," so no matter how long they are sober, they will still self-identify as an alcoholic. They can't go back, and life will never be quite the same.
I thought about my dear friend who is hemmed in by both bipolar disorder and depression, knowing that if he runs out of medication, or if something about his biological environment changes, his world will quite quickly become a dark and untrustworthy place. There was a time when he lived free of this diagnosis, but he can't go back to that time--his life will never be free of the potential of this darkness.
I thought about the conversations I've had with friends--and with myself--on the other side of a major life change, where what was has an allure that is lacking in what is, and the weight of this loss is unbearably heavy. We can't go back; life will never be the same.
It was this collective sense of darkness, and the ubiquitous not being able to go back, that I had in mind when I wrote this song. I wrote it for them. I wrote for me. I likely wrote it for you.
Each verse of this song ends with me putting these words into the mouth of God: "I've called you mine." After the third verse, this changes to, "I've called you mine, and you can't go back." Of all the things, great and small, from which we can't go back, this is the most enduring. The conditions of life find their resolve in death, but the condition of being a child of God can't be erased by something as temporal as death. God chose to be God-with-us in the midst of the darkness, and no shade of darkness can change that. This is grace.
This is a piece of what this song means to me, but there is much more going on. Reading the lyrics will be a start to understanding this song better, but if you want to talk about it at all, please send me an email.
All the Poor and Powerless: We sang this song to look over our shoulder at last week's songs, which were gathered around the theme of singing. This is what we said about All the Poor and Powerless last week: We sang this song to turn our attention to humans. There are two refrains in this song that involve what humans cry out in worship to God. One is "Alleluia" (familiar?) and the other is "He is God." I'll admit: part of me recoils against taking something as complex as the worship of God and reducing it to such simple phrases, but I feel like what I said about the previous song fits here as well: Simple? Yes. Legitimate? Yes. What else is there to say? The most complex praises of a theologian or business person (or whoever) can probably all be reduced back to this one idea.
Doxology: We close our time together each week with this proclamation that God is worthy of praise from every inch of the cosmos.