My best friend Ellen sent me an mp3 of a sermon by her friend Sabrina, who is on staff at the InterVarsity chapter at University of Texas (Austin). Apparently Sabrina quoted lyrics from our song “Death is a Song” in one of her sermons at Mosaic. I didn’t even know what she referenced the song for, but my immediate response was strangely emotional. I was just startled that a minister could find a place for our words and music, written without any sort of Christian agenda, in her sermon. Here’s a quote from her sermon:
“There’s this song by one of my favorite bands that has the lyric: ‘Like the African girl in the parking garage always said, if God is the healer let’s give him this ordinary day even though we didn’t always get our way.’
And I’ve been thinking about that a lot – the writers I don’t think they’re Christian but I think there’s a lot of truth in this. … You could say if God is the shepherd, if God is the leader, if God is the host. … Because really if I had my own way all the time, my life would probably be a mess. I’m upset with God about this particular thing, but I can sort of look at the big picture and say you know if I got my way most times I wouldn’t be in the place that I am today. I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
It was an Easter sermon, and she was talking about joy and hope in the midst of angst. The tragedy of Christ’s death and yet the promise of resurrection. The pain of losing something or not getting something you’ve wanted so badly all your life and the overwhelming joy of finally letting go of it already, submitting with great humility and faith to something that is far greater and more sublime than we could ever wrap our little human brains around.
Sabrina’s sermon was based on Psalm 23, a famous psalm and one you often hear at a funeral. It’s funny that Ellen should send this Easter sermon now because this week was the anniversary of our dad’s passing, and it gave me a good chance to really think of him and remember him.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your road and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
She also had another quote from Theo Geyser that I thought was amazing too about the coexistence of joy and suffering:
“So it is with Easter, what we proclaim is life in spite of death, life in the teeth of death. The appropriate facial expression is eyebrows raised in wonder, not a forced smile which dares not admit the ongoing reality of chaos and pain.” – Theo Geyser
All humans realize they are loved when witnessing the dawn: Early morning is the triumph of good over evil. Absolved by light we decide to go on.
Isn’t that grand? Rufus is playing at Strathmore this summer.