Posted by Andy Jacob

February 6, 2014In the inexorable grip of heroin addiction and clinical depression, in the desperation of a failing musical career, and deep from valley of the shadow of the death by suicide of a close friend, folk singer James Taylor wrote the 1970 ballad Fire and Rain.  The second verse is an unforgettable and timeless plea and profession…

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus,
You’ve got to help me make a stand.
You’ve just got to see me through another day.
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
and I won’t make it any other way.
Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.
I’ve seen sunny days
that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times
when I could not find a friend,
but I always thought that I’d see you again.

Behind Jesus and grace, music and song may be God’s greatest gifts.  In music we express and experience our deepest pains in the same stanzas with our greatest hopes.  Music is transcendent, having the power to cross all cultures, classes, and creeds.

Music also has the unparalleled power to motivate; throughout history it has served as a spark, igniting the fires of change, transformation, and justice.

This Sunday we continue our celebration of Black History Month with a focus on the power of music in the African-American spiritual tradition.  The early spirituals offered hope in the face of unimaginable hardship.  Post-Reconstruction musical forms offered new and independent identity that propelled the movement for equality.  The Civil Rights movement was fueled by melodies of justice and harmonies of peace.

When we gather on Sunday and sing God’s praises through the hardships of those who have paved the path to freedom, may their spark ignite our fire.



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