As last weekend was approaching, I was struck by how many things were going on: the world still reeling with COVID-19; violent deaths no longer hidden by the darkness of night, but exposed on video where injustice and hate could no longer be denied; Juneteenth celebrations commemorating the day that American slaves in Texas finally heard they had been emancipated; Father’s Day; World Refugee Day; the Virtual Poor People’s March; and several Woman’s Marches around the country.
I was praying about all of these and I was praying for those who would be preaching a word of hope, wondering what direction they would take. I remembered hearing Fred Craddock say that he generally found that the Lectionary Scriptures for a certain Sunday spoke to whatever might be happening in the world. I turned to the scriptures and there was Psalm 86: “Lord! Listen closely to me and answer me, because I am poor and in need. … My God! Have mercy on me! I cry to you all day long.”
I live in an area along the Mississippi Blues Trail. I’ve been hearing the Blues sung all my life, woes being laid out, to be dealt with, to hand over to God to make things right. Reading Psalm 86, a Psalm of Lament, opened my ears to the connection between the Blues and the Laments. People have been singing the Blues all along, demanding that everyone hear that what is going on isn’t right. The Psalms remind us that those Blues can also be sung to God, who created everything to be good. The Psalms carry an assurance that the Blues won’t last forever because God can make all things new, God can bring good even out of bad, and that God is making a way.
Singing the Blues is ultimately an act of faith, trusting that the troubles we are seeing isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Don’t hold your troubles, your family troubles, your nation’s troubles, even global troubles inside. Sing the Blues, join your voices with others singing the Blues, join hands in prayer, and then listen, and watch, and work together with the God of Love to make a new way, even now.