Something to hope for…

It’s a beautiful Thursday afternoon here in Western North Carolina and the odd thought of how rap music and social justice compare. I know, this analogy is odd, but I think there are parallels. I will say that the way rap music confronts social justice is a little different then the way the church interacts with social justice. To me social justice is fighting for those in need, just simply helping those in need, providing hope and help to the helpless and hopeless. The song Juicy by Notorious B.I.G comes to mind when I think about hope for the hopeless and help for the helpless.

These are lyrics from Notorious B.I.G’s song Juicy:
Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis
When I was dead broke, man I couldn’t picture this
50 inch screen, money green leather sofa
Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur
Phone bill about two G’s flat
No need to worry, my accountant handles that
And my whole crew is loungin’
Celebratin’ every day, no more public housin’
Thinkin’ back on my one-room shack
Now my mom pimps a Ac’ with minks on her back
And she loves to show me off, of course
Smiles every time my face is up in The Source
We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us
No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us
Birthdays was the worst days
Now we sip champagne when we thirst-ay
Uh, damn right I like the life I live
‘Cause I went from negative to positive
And it’s all…
(It’s all good)

In this verse B.I.G talks about what it is to live in the ghetto and to be poor, what’s interesting is how he parallels his improvised, just tryin’ to make it by struggles to his then, fame. The want and need for nice things. In the introduction of this rap he starts by saying “Yeah, this album is dedicated to all the teachers that told me I’d never amount to nothin’, to all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustlin’ in front of that called the police on me when I was just tryin’ to make some money to feed my daughters…” It’s like he’s saying I know the world said I wouldn’t make it, but I’ve made it – in your face, world – but B.I.G also offers hope for those trying to knock the struggle and make it to a more steady life not living check to check and working dead end jobs. Isn’t that the American dream? My answer is yes and no: yes, the American dream is to be successful and not live in poverty, however there are some who don’t know what poverty is; No, the American dream isn’t to have a limo driver and accountant. For me, Juicy has a homiletic approach within it, providing listeners with hope and encouragement that they will and can make it out of something that seems deep and dark.

WE can’t do this alone

“We are church cause we can’t do this alone” said Jeff Mathis during his sermon on Sunday and I couldn’t agree more!  We are not alone, we have each other and that has been comforting for me in the darkest of times and in the most illuminating times. Church is one of the few places left in the world, maybe even the only place that inter-generational  communication happens. We have divided ourselves in so many ways its unbelievable – we are divided by sexuality, gender, age, race, the list goes on! Yes, we are divided by Sunday School groups at church, but it is a blessing to stand in a pulpit, look out and see different colors of hair, wrinkles, no wrinkles, frigidity children and crying babies all on the same pew! It’s a bigger blessing to see a church that is truly a family working together in Christian community to Gods eyes, ear, and mouth in a community.
 We can’t do this alone, because we can’t save the world, but we can offer small glimpses into what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like, yes we are that powerful when we serve our communities and one another. See it’s the small glimpse that offer transformation, if you get what I’m saying.
We can’t do this alone, because being Christian connects to something that is larger than ourselves that words don’t do justice when trying to explain. 
We can’t do this alone, because overtime Christians have split into many denominations while differing in beliefs we all can agree that we follow Christ and share his concern for the world. 
We can’t do this alone, because we need one another in the good and bad. 
We can’t do this alone, because we are the body of Christ and the body has many members! 
We can’t do this alone, because…(you fill in the blank) 

I could go on and on about why we can’t do this alone, instead I leave you with the beautiful words of  Blest Be the Tie… 

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds…