Thursday, June 21, 2007
The words to the first song express how I feel when I listen to this CD: “You lift me up,/And I’m touching the blue sky./You lift me up, I’m on top of the world.” I listen often to this CD by passage, a group formed by Phil Hall as the first openly gay singers to record spiritual songs and hymns.
A few of the songs were familiar to me, but many were not and they have blessed me profoundly. “Testify to Love,” has rousing words and is sung in great harmony, and I am moved by the words to the chorus of “Hymns”: “Composer of my soul/Show me all you show to them;/But hymn Writer, hymn Singer,/Let me know their eloquence,/Let me share their offering,/Put the notes in my heart, the lyrics on my lips,/And let the essence of my life be a song/That others will want to sing.” And “Sweet Hour of Prayer” reminds me again how blessed I am to have God in my life. When Jonathan Moon, Andrew Redeker and Randy Glass sing these songs they touch my soul deeply.
I told Phil Hall I was surprised that in this day and age this is the first openly gay group to sing spiritual songs and asked if churches had made them feel they were unworthy. And I asked why it’s important to make note of one’s sexual identity. This is what he shared with me:
“I think part of God's loving gesture of sending His Son to earth was to make manifest His love to us through a human being, AND to have Jesus love us for our humanity, and to teach us how to love ourselves (and others) in the same way. I think so often, Jesus saw past the human weaknesses/failings of His disciples and of Mary Magdalene, and saw into their hearts. I imagine if I had met Jesus and heard Him preach, I would have asked to follow Him.
“Since I can't really go back to that time, what I can do is "follow Him" in my way -- in these modern times in which I live. LGBT, and their political champions, are still fighting for equal rights -- not special ones -- only equal ones. One of the last frontiers for LGBT people that needs ministering to is faith. Many of us grew up in churches that espoused conservative, fundamental theology. When churches weren't bullying LGBT people from the pulpit, their own conservative Christian families perpetuated the tradition -- many exiling their children from their homes once they dared speak the truth of who they were.
“As out gay men, when we stood up to sing those songs that we had each held dear to our hearts growing up, we took steps towards wholeness individually and for other LGBT who ached to do what we were, yet still found it daunting and/or even life-threatening.”
To be continued tomorrow