The Funeral at the Megachurch

“Jesus, you’re the best…” he said.
His open collar showed his chest
was tan even in December.
“We just want to thank you, Lord,
for taking Joe to be with you.
We’ll miss him, but we know it’s best
for him to be in heaven.”

We sang Amazing Grace, but Joe,
it seemed, had clawed his way up high
through generous gifts to the church,
by staying married, raising kids,
and praying often. He would reach
the Golden Gates, receive the pie
in the sky. Not so, you and I.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Dec. 10, 2014

Stevie Wonder and the Blind

Remember Stevie Wonder’s song that lifted our spirits and brought tears to our eyes? Click We are the World.

There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me

Stevie Wonder got it then, and he gets it now. He’s made a choice to help save lives.

He has announced that he will no longer appear in the state of Florida. He’s boycotting Florida and every other place with “Stand Your Ground” laws in the wake of the Trayvon Martin jury verdict.

The acquittal of George Zimmermann brings to the fore once more gun violence, race, and the Stand Your Ground laws that move the right to defend one’s home without retreat into the streets.

The dark sun glasses are a trademark of the performer who cannot see, but he sees some things very clearly. This is one time the blind need to follow the blind man who sees. “Once I was blind, but now I see,” wrote John Newton, the captain of a slave-trade ship, after he came to his senses and refused to participate any longer in the evil of the slave trade.

It’s choices like Stevie Wonder’s that help us to save our own lives. Decisions like Stevie’s shine a light on the blindness of a society whose laws in Florida and elsewhere turn back the clock to the old days of vigilante violence.

Someday hence it will be said that America suffered years of temporary blindness – that we forgot that we are the world – and that a blind man named Stevie led America in singing with joy the hymn of the old slave ship captain: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…I once was blind, but now I see.”

Click We are the World.

I Live with doubt

I live with doubt

A hymn by Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, In honor of John Newton (1725-1807), author of “Amazing Grace.”

I live with doubt:  my faith is weak,
Dark clouds are what I see.
A God of love is all I seek,
Can such a good God be?

The world is full of greed and lies,
Of war and talk of war.
Can any savior hear my cries
And hope and peace restore?

When Jesus met the man born blind,
He touched his eyes with clay.
He bid him wash and he did find
His sight and a new day,

The sun breaks through, I see ahead
My task to feed the poor.
I still have doubts, but grace instead
Of fear I feel much more!

My thoughts and feelings come and go
Like sun dissolves the snow;
But God is firm, and now I see,
That God has faith in me.
Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac”posting on the anniversary of the birthday of John Newton, converted slave ship captain, prompted Steve to write these stanzas in honor of the author of “Amazing Grace.”  Steve’s hymn can be sung to the same tune. The meter is the same.