So my daughter is in high school. She is in high school in an inner city, Atlanta public high school. We live, shop, play and worship in a community thumping with a beautiufl cacophony of colorful people – thanks be to God. And Zoë, my worldly child with an old soul, who is patient with her frequently dim mamma, is teaching me a thing or two about the Kingdom of God.
Z shared a video with me recently. Being a bit of an old fart these days who is happy with her “music from the 80’s, 90s and now” station or Pandora Indigo Girls stream I had not really run into an abundance of Macklemore/Ryan Lewis selections. I certainly had not heard his hipster anthem Thrift Shop. But I sure am glad she shared it with me on our recent road trip to Florida. Now I keep returning to the video, something about it has me enthralled and last night, after the umpteenth viewing a bolt of awareness hit me. This song, sprinkled with all sorts of specious language is a beautiful vision of God’s Kingdom. Huh? Well, watch the video and then come back to the conversation.
In case I have not made it abundantly clear, and for those who have a delicate sensibility, the language is course – explicit even – but I invite you to hang in there – I think it is worth it.
Welcome back. Take a deep breath – you’ll be ok
When I first heard this song I kinda rolled my eyes, began with a hint of dismissive attitude (all the while genuinely grateful for a daughter who felt she could safely share with me something I might find offensive). See, we live in a city where there lingers a palpable and seething racism that percolates up from all colors of the rainbow and it sometimes is born on the pumping rhythms of rap music – (and yes, often in the twangy lines of a county song, I know) so when she cranked it up on that south-bound road my ears were loaded with all my own pre-conceived, granny-panty notions. Shame on me. But after a minute I laughed. Anne Lamott recently said that laughter is carbonated holiness and I believe it – when I allowed myself to laugh and enjoy the obvious humor and fun I gave space for even more to happen. Before I knew it I got a little hooked on the sound, and fell in love with the visual and then last night it struck me – I love this because I can see the Kingdom of God amidst the hipsters and hijinks. It is simple as this…
I see black and white folks, I see old and itty young folks, I see big folks and skinny folks, I see nerdy and über cool, I see women and men, I see Asian and Latino folks – all laughing, dancing and playing together. And I hear a pointed word about economic justice too. Did you hear it? To my eyes, that really do want to see God’s goodness in everything and everyone, the whole romp looks a little like a Gospel where we are called by Jesus to love everyone, everyone, everyone. Could you see it?
THEN – if that little personal growth moment was not enough, I Googled Mackelmore for about a minute and connected a few more dots – wow what dots they are! I saw the video below a month or so ago but when Zoë shared Thrift Shop with me I did not even remotely make the connection.
Warning – this one might require a tissue or two.
So what’s my point with all this? I guess it’s a little reminder to myself, and anyone else who might be open to it, that solid preaching and damn fine renderings of the Gospel are OFTEN found in the most unlikely of places – outside complex theological ruminations, outside Zondervan and Lighthouse book stacks, outside Mercy Me and Casting Crowns videos, outside of church and most definitely outside our preconceived notions of what is holy and what is profane.
What crazy-ass place have you heard the Gospel recently?