Sunday, March 29, 2020

Christ & the Coronavirus Playlist | 3 Songs with Ike Ndolo: We Are the Beggars + Grave to Shudder + Land of the Rising Sun

"The dark is groaning, the tomb is reaching out, oh, but they can't have me, oh by they can't have me! The crows are circling, the jackal waits in the dark, oh, but they can't have me. Oh, but they can't have me! I belong the land of the rising sun where the grave is no more, the war has been won! I belong to the land of the rising Son, I belong to You, I belong! ... "

I love Ike Ndolo as a singer-songwriter, and he may be my favorite worship-in-song writer. Even more so, his music right now is brining consolations and courage to my heart and mind during this novel coronavirus pandemic.

Ndolo, a Nigerian-American and humble Roman Catholic, writes and sings with great passion about how Christ has overcome our fears and sin, and has defeated the powers of disease and destruction within us and outside of us. His songs resonate with a longing that captures the heart of what God offers us in Jesus in our deepest needs, often expressed by the prophet Isaiah:

Arise, shine, for your Light has come, 
and the glory of the Lord shines over you.
For look, darkness will cover the earth, 
and total darkness the peoples; 
but the Lord will shine over you, 
and His glory will appear over you. ...

Come, everyone who is thirsty, 
come to the water; 
and you without silver, 
come, buy, and eat! 
Come, buy wine and milk 
without silver and without cost! 
Why do you spend silver on what is not food, 
and your wages on what does not satisfy? 
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, 
and you will enjoy the choicest of foods. 
Pay attention and come to Me; 
listen, so that you will live. 
I will make a permanent covenant with you ... 

Emmaus City Worcester MA Worship Story in Song Ike Ndolo We are the Beggars Grave to Shudder

Ndolo's first album, "Rivers," features multiple songs we enjoy singing together with Emmaus City Church, though we have not had the opportunity to do so in person as of late. 
Two of his songs we sing in relation to the sacraments: "Offering" often before or during the time we partake in the Eucharist, and "Riverside" before we celebrate the baptism of an infant, child, household, or adult

But the three songs off of "Rivers" that have greatly resonated with me in relation to prayers for my city of Worcester during the Coronavirus Pandemic are "We Are the Beggars," "Grave to Shudder," and "Land of the Rising Sun" (the last of which is Emmaus City Church's favorite song to sing together based on a recent poll). 
These three songs speak of Jesus who brings healing from His wounds for those who see themselves in need of of His saving. And right now, I sing along with them from afar during this novel coronavirus pandemic, recognizing again that I am not my own or anyone else's savior. 

I believe that in Emmaus City Church and in our city of Worcester in the weeks and months to come, we will grow in our longing for more than our own strength can provide. Could this time in being quarantined with some forced reflection help us put to death relying on ourselves, trusting that we will be met and rescued by Another who can even make hell itself turn and run?

I dare to dream that there will be more in our beloved city who will hope in Someone to come to them and love them with the power that brings life out of death and causes dry bones to rise. I dare to believe that this Savior, this Servant King who washes even the filthiest and most diseased parts of us, is at work to make our wrongs right, and that He is making all things new even during a pandemic. 

What could our lives look like in Worcester right now in relation to Him and each other if our actions grow in being moved by faith, not fear, with this Jesus who fulfills everything He promises for us, not only moving in us, but moving through us?

With Jesus, we see Someone who even the grave shudders at. And if we choose to be the beggars in Worcester, we can give our lives for Him and for others, sharing His Good News with all in word and deed. And in doing so, we will find where life truly begins even in the midst of a pandemic.

Will you dare to dream with me?

See hope and justice blaze,
Let it burn through this place.
Tear down our walls of sin;
See mercy flooding in.
In You salvation comes!

We'll run to Your cross!
You are here now,
You are here now.

We are the beggars here
Showing the beggars where
Life begins and death will end. 

Come Church and have no fear!
Look now our God draws near!
Our King, the Bread of Life
Who calls these bones to rise!
Take heart 'cause Love has won!
He makes the darkness run
We're singing it loud, 
We're singing it loud! 

Ike Ndolo's "Grave to Shudder" Lyrics and Video

 Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Network of Missional Communities

I was born under lock and key.
My slavery was like a friend to me.
It's all I knew, like the pressing night
Until You came and gave me back my life.

This beating heart was growing fainter still, 
Dry from the world and its empty meals. 
I tried to rise, but I could not die. 
You showed me how and put to death my pride. 

He has made the grave to shudder 
And all of hell to turn and run! 
He has looked on me a pauper 
and called me, "Son!" 
With a glance He melts the mountains 
That are building in my heart! 
He has given me a new life 
To shine like the stars! 

You count my hairs 
Like You count the stars. 
Gave me a name
And wrote it on Your heart. 
What reckless love
To give Your life away! 
Snatched from the pit 
My soul today. 

On the edge of night, 
Beyond the wall of sound, 
I'll stay close to You, my God, 
Lead me to higher ground! 
Upward on onward still 
To a land bold and bright! 
My Love, You have come to save 
And turn all my wrongs to right! 

Ike Ndolo's Land of the Rising Sun Lyrics and Video

The dark is groaning, the tomb is reaching out.
Oh, but they can't have me!
Oh, but they can't have me!
The crows are circling, the jackal waits in the dark.
Oh, but they can't have me!
Oh, but they can't have me!

I belong to the land of the rising sun
Where the grave is no more,
The war has been won!
I belong to the land of the rising Son,
I belong to You, I belong!

The world is in my bones, it makes me wrestle with You.
Oh, but You have claimed me!
Oh, but You have claimed me!
No matter how far I've gone, even to the devil's table.
Oh, my God, You've claimed me!
Oh, my God, You've claimed me! 

Through my wandering, and my failing, 
And my doubting, I belong!
Through the fire, and the darkness, 
Through the sadness, I belong!
I'm just a rebel who's tired of fighting,
So I'm laying down these arms.
The sun is rising, the sun is rising, 
The Son is rising! 

Next post: Christ & the Coronavirus Painting | "Kitchen Maid with the Supper of Emmaus" by Diego Velazquez, 1618 A.D.

P.S. For more of Ike Ndolo's potent songwriting, see also his most recent powerful collaborations with Common Hymnal that touch on other ways Jesus connects with resonant themes in our nation and world: "How Much Longer?" and "Blue Collar Praise").

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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