Waiting in eager expectation for the end


Dear Minster and Friends,

In October 1911 a woman was born who was later called the ‘Queen of Gospel ‘- Mahalia Jackson. Especially from the period from the Second World War, through the civil rights movement and until her death in 1972, she was able to voice hopes, fears, laments and encouragements, especially to the African American community in the United States, but her influence was much much greater. You can hear her influence in R&B and Soul – her contralto tones seem to sit behind modern singers like Adele.

She was longing for heaven, but sang often of what it feels like to wrestle with the systems and sufferings of this world.

It it was Mahalia Jackson who sang a song of lament (I’ve been rebuked, Ive been scorned) before the famous ‘I have a dream’ sermon of Martin Luther King.

It was these prophetic songs of longing like ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’ that made the deepest connection with those also urging God for change in a turbulent time;

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely,
And long for heaven, heaven and home,
When, when Jesus is my portion,
My constant Friend is He;
Oh, oh-oh, his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watched, watched it over me.

Or one called Trouble of the World;

Soon it will be done
Trouble of the world
Trouble of the world
Trouble! of the world
Soon it will be done
Trouble! of the world
Going home! to live! with god!
No more! weapin unwilling
No more! Weepin an wailin
No more! Weepin an wailin
Going home! to live! with my lord!

Christians sing of heaven, longing for the tying up of the loose ends of history, longing for an end to the drama and trouble of this world. But we live in fallen, conflicted and troubled times – whether at school or in politics, in business or homes. We live in a troubled world and we need to find our voice as we eagerly wait for God’s justice, peace and Kingdom to come to earth.

‘May it be here on Earth as it is in heaven’ is a visionary, longing prayer that is fully aware of how far heaven is from home right now. So may we pray for it again – and perhaps join in song with those around the world who truly understand what it is to suffer and wish for ‘home’.

With much love,