A YEAR AGO this week, I recorded the first worship video for the Open Table Network (OTN). OTN’s slogan is ‘Come As You Are’, but as we couldn’t gather in person, we called that first online gathering ‘Stay As You Are’.
Since then I’ve produced eight more worship videos. This week’s offering was a modern reflection on the traditional Lent devotion, the Stations of the Cross, and the struggle for LGBT equality.
When I was looking for music to share in our Stations of the Cross video, I found a new song recorded by the Northumbria Community, which describes itself as
“a dispersed network of people from different backgrounds, streams and edges of the Christian faith.”— northumbriacommunity.org
It is an inclusive community, which produces some excellent resources for worship that some Open Table communities have found helpful.
The music video they released last month is a modern arrangement of the ancient Christian prayer ‘Kyrie Eleison’, which is Greek for ‘Lord have mercy’.
I first learned this version when I sang in the church folk choir as a young adult. I loved it then, but hadn’t sung it for years. It came back to me in my thirties as a struggled to integrate my sexuality and spirituality. The words of the second verse resonated deeply with me:
“Walk among them, I’ll go with you— Kyrie [Look Around You ] by Jodie Page Clark
Reach out to them with my hands
Suffer with me, and together
We will serve them, help them stand”
It felt like a call for me to do this work of integration not only for myself, but for others. I believe it was a call to share my own story, and to advocate for other LGBTQIA+ Christians too – to commit to the ministry which has become the Open Table Network.
The Northumbria Community describes this video as a ‘special song of lament today’.
“A place of lament and resonance— northumbriacommunity.org/2021/03/03/kyrie-eleison-a-special-song-of-lament-for-these-days
in these strange, disturbing and difficult days.
A means of calling forth who we are, and are meant to be,
as creatives, dreamers, edge-walkers, followers of Christ.
Acknowledging the pain, asking for mercy
and, through intentional vulnerability,
learning more of how to share the road together:
singers, dancers, creative artists of all kinds
bringing who they are to construct
a beautiful reflection of God’s heart,
for such a time as this.”
It echoes the long spiritual tradition of songs of lament such as those found in the books of Psalms and Lamentations in the Bible. American theologian Walter Brueggemann writes
“The laments in the books of Psalms and Lamentations are all an expression of grief, but they are also an expression of hope. They are an insistence that things cannot remain this way and they must be changed. Such prayers are partly an address to God, but they are also a communal resolve to hang in and take transformative action. Unless that kind of grief and rage and anger is put to speech, it can never become energy. So I believe the transformative function of such prayers is that it transforms energy and rage into positive energy.”— Walter Brueggemann
The Northumbria Community’s video brings together voices, photographs, percussion, film clips, dance, translations and prayers from more than 80 people across their dispersed, worldwide network. The Community has offered it as a gift to be shared widely, ‘for it to bless other people and the world’.
May it bless us today as we grieve and we hope; as we hang on and as we take action; as we transform rage into positive energy.
Watch the video here [4 mins]
Read more about the story of the video here. THANKS to the Northumbria Community for permission to share their recording of this song in the OTN Stations of the Cross video.