Our small discussion groups have begun meeting to share our thoughts on Hope Sings, So Beautiful. A small group met for prayer last Thursday, listening to Billie Holiday sing Strange Fruit, a haunting and powerful song about the dark story of the lynching tree. We heard a passage from James H. Cone’s book The Cross and the Lynching Tree. We listened to a setting of psalm 63, My Soul is Thirsting, which echoed the blues-y tone of Strange Fruit, and heard the gospel of the day, in which Jesus tells us to ask, to seek, to knock. And to treat others as we wish to be treated.
As we move toward Palm Sunday and Good Friday, we think of the cruel torture that Jesus endured. For many in our world, torture is an ongoing reality. In our country, it is part of our history–the shadow of the lynching tree that is not a relic of a distant past. To whom can we turn but the Lord for deliverance? Who can change hearts and heal our wounds? Jesus showed us how to treat others with love, tenderness, compassion. Only God can move us beyond our dark past to justice and reconciliation. But first we must be willing to be moved.