November 3 2015

by Alexei Laushkin

So, what about Thanksgiving in the midst of suffering? That’s something I’m reflecting on and how Christian worship guides us into a type of lament that leads to joy and healing/wholeness.

I am spending sometime thinking about and listening to the interviews of Mahalia Jackson. Her last tour in Europe is worth the watch especially this clip here and here. A picture of Mahalia below:

Many stories have been told about this Christian saint. Perhaps you know the one dating back to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The one where Mahalia shouts ‘tell them about the dream Martin.’ You can read the backstory here.

Perhaps you know that the interviews she gave are rich in Christian love and perseverance. Rich like gold that has been refined by fire. One of her better longer interviews can be found here.

But if you want to get a real listen about faith, love, and suffering. Check out this shorter interview here. (An excerpt from Studs Terkel’s interview with her Sept. 30, 1957). Here’s a written rendition.

Stud asks (they’re talking about the nonviolent teaching of Martin Luther King), ‘it’s rough to turn the cheek isn’t it?’ Mahalia replies ‘that’s his teaching you know. I have gone along with it pretty much, following his leadership. But it’s pretty hard Stud for someone to keep knocking you down. I know he’s right. You kind of get get a little angry though. When they put children in jail.’ Again click here for the shorter clip.

From the end of the interview, Mahalia says (quoting a song) ‘walk together children don’t you get weary, there’s a great camp meeting in the promised land … we’re going to walk together right here.’

We’re going to walk together right here. I love that. Here in this time and place we are given the ministry of reconciliation and to reconcile with different people and different cultures but a common faith is perhaps one of the great missions of humility in the life of the church. We are already one, can we live into that reality in the land of the living?

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