Hope for a broken world

Jul 15, 2016 by

Just yesterday I discovered the following new hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, a gifted writer and musician, whose words have blessed many during her career. Written in response to the recent shooting deaths of African-Americans Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the murder of the 5 police officers in Dallas, it certainly is timely and has touched the wounded, aching center of my soul. In light of these events I intended to share a few thoughts about the song and its message in today’s blog.

However, this morning I am still reeling from the unspeakable horror of the terrorist attack in Nice, France which has claimed at least 84 lives and injured many more. I can’t stop seeing that white tractor-trailer plowing down innocent men, women, and yes, even children who have gathered to watch fireworks on a day that celebrates freedom.

How in God’s name are we to respond to such a world gone awry? What can be done to halt the violence that plagues us, the hatred that consumes us, and the hopelessness that gives birth to any number of reactions that are, frankly, destructive. What would God have us do, globally? Locally?

While this song is specifically about the recent racial violence in America, it has the ring of Truth for so many situations. It is an antidote to the knee-jerk reactions that politicians make which only exacerbate the problems we face. It speaks in accents familiar to those familiar with the best of the Christian tradition and its Lord. Interestingly, it is to be sung to the tune of “The Church’s One Foundation.”

When people die by hatred, when people die by fear,
When people die defending our right to protest here,
When young black men are murdered, when heroes die in blue,
When people die for justice, O God, we cry to you.

We thank you for the faithful who give and give some more:
Who advocate for justice, who lead the cry: “No more!”
Who work for public safety, who seek a peaceful way.
We thank you for their labors to build a better day.

When people raise their voices and seek the common good,
When neighbors meet with neighbors to change their neighborhood,
When we hear others’ stories, when we admit our sin,
O God, we’ll know your healing in this world once again.

From the deepest part of my yearning heart I cry,

“Let your healing begin even now, O Lord. And let it begin with us. Let it begin…with me.”