Ranting

2017, The Musical

August 17th, 2017

When you choose not to hear it, that doesn’t mean it’s not being said. When you choose not to see the effect of what’s being said, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

It might be there in what you read, or on TV, or in a conversation. It might be in the eyes of those who look to you for guidance, for meaning.

It might be a song.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, August 18, 2017, and in The Memphis News, August 19-25, 2017

Fosdick

“GRANT US WISDOM, GRANT US COURAGE”

Episcopalians sing every week, as I’m sure many of you do, but most of us aren’t listening to the words. Their familiarity has bred if not contempt at least complacence.

Maybe that helps explain why so many so-called Christians can so ignore – so endorse – what’s happening at the top of our government; how Evangelicals can meet in the Oval Office to lay hands on the president for some other purpose than picking him up and throwing him out.

They’re not listening.

Last week, I sang, as my pew can painfully attest, but I also listened. The words spoke to me. Out loud, if you will. They were from a hymn by Harry Emerson Fosdick, first a Baptist preacher, then Presbyterian minister, and then called to be pastor of Manhattan’s ecumenical Riverside Church in 1930 – the same year he penned “God Of Grace, God Of Glory”, and the same year he graced the cover of Time for the second time. He was prophetic for his time and ours. So much so, the hymn is in Methodist and Moravian hymnals, Lutheran and Latter Day Saints, Catholic and the United Church of Canada, Presbyterian and Pilgrim – 128 hymnals in all including mine on page 594.

Just listen.

“God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your power;
crown your ancient church’s story,
bring its bud to glorious flower.”

Power to the people, people. Even the least of these. Worth not measured in personal wealth. Truth not measured in personal gain. It’s hard to smell the flowers for the fertilizer, hard for so many to even see them when they’ve already been picked for so very few.

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.”

God knows we need it.

“Lo! the hosts of evil round us
scorn the Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us
free our hearts to faith and praise.”

Fear not the other. In fact, do unto others … you remember the rest of that, right?

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.”

Lord, Lord.

“Cure your children’s warring madness;
bend our pride to your control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
rich in things and poor in soul.”

That isn’t even subtle. I mean, really. Could that be any more on point?

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.”

The goal tears down walls; it doesn’t build them.

“Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of your salvation
be our glory evermore.”

Read the words and sing along, Congress. Raise your hands, cross the aisle, and head down front.

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving you whom we adore,
serving you whom we adore.”

Not you, Mr. President, it’s not about you. Amen.

I’m a Memphian, and grant us wisdom, grant us courage.

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