One of my favorite experiences of the church has been writing songs for our Sunday meetings, and I’ve been honored to see how they’ve circulated in our community. Translating the poetry of Scripture and the church mothers and fathers into music is a meditative act for me, and I hope that you can get a sense of that this week. — Andrew Yang
Today’s Bible reading
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may increase? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.
More Thoughts for Meditation:
Let us be free
From dead ways of living
And to share in the newness of life that You give
To be joined in Your death
And join with Your rising
And to join in the breaking of death as we live
We shall all be changed
At last we’ll be remade
Made like You, we’ll rise
Death itself will die
“Let Us Be Free” was written for the Lent season of 2021, and looking back, I think it’s as much about wanting to be free of the covid-19 lockdown as much as it is about looking forward to the resurrection of the dead.
The song is based off of Romans 6, but also draws from 1 Corinthians. Specifically, verses 51, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,” and 26, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
We have a visceral reaction to the word sin, probably from televangelists and parents trying to make us feel bad about ourselves, but I wanted to try to recapture the sense of the word as the Apostle Paul uses it — a thing that not only arises out of individual actions, like lying or stealing, but also in social and economic ones, like the police or the suburbs, or even physical ones, like calamities or diseases; a thing that is an enemy.
So instead of “sin” I used the phrase of “dead ways of living,” which I think captures some of that. We are surrounded by dead ways of living that dishonor our neighbors, and our planet, and even ourselves. The good news of Jesus is that these ways of living will themselves die.
Suggestions for action
Since the good news of Jesus is that these oppressive ways of living will be ended by God, what role is there left for us to play? Should we, for instance, continue to be racist since God will end racism with or without our help anyway? As Paul says, “by no means!” We’re invited to participate in a new way of living and join in the breaking of death as we live. It’s worth taking into account the dead ways of living that inhabit our lives, and how we can get a foretaste of ultimate victory by continuing the process that Jesus started and will one day finish, of tearing them out, root and branch.