Today, I was struck powerfully by the fact that there are so many proverbs in scripture that express some lazy and erroneous conventional “wisdom” that we should question and reject. An example of this is the frequently repeated notion in Proverbs that if you love God and are faithful to the Spirit’s leadings, you will inevitably be protected from harm and suffering, avoid persecution, be prosperous, and enjoy nothing but good things in life.
The sacred stories offered in the gospels about the arrest, cruel torture, and humiliating public execution of Jesus as a rebel leader at the hands of the Roman Empire puts the lie to this very naive notion. While loving God and loving what God loves does open us to great joy, communion, and near endless gratitude, it does not protect us from suffering persecution or betrayal at the hands of others. In one of the gospels, even Jesus is reported to have said on the cross, “God, God, why have you forsaken me?”
Yet, the resurrection story of Easter says to me that we while we can suffer betrayal and persecution at the hands of others, we are not forsaken. We are not alone. We are not without divine love and spiritual resources. In fact, the message of the resurrection story to me is that evil can be evil, but it can’t kill the Spirit–and God’s Spirit always remains available to accompany us on a path that can deepen our joy, inspire our courage to challenge the corrupt ways of empire in the world (and in our hearts), and help us become much needed channels of divine love and healing so we are able to say in the midst of intense suffering and betrayal, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
To this, I would only add, “Forgive me, Divine Spirit in which we all live, move, and breath, for I so often do not know what I do and I so often miss the mark.” Blessed be.
You might be interested in an upcoming concert at Next Stage Arts in Putney. On Friday, March 27 I will be performing with my group The Bright Wings Chorus, a nine person a capella group that performs traditional American sacred music, including shape note hymns, gospel, and my original work. For this tour, we will be doing a mentorship with Rev. Donna Cox, a gospel singer from Ohio, to deepen our practice in that tradition and to facilitate a conversation about race in the folk music community. And for the Putney show, we will be joined for one song by members of the BUHS Madrigals group. It will be an exciting evening, and I’d love to see you all there.
You can hear a bit of what the group sounds like here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ys1lVkBPMM
Tickets are $12. You can reserve ahead of time at brightwings.brownpapertickets.com or get them at the door.