To the broken one
To the pain untold
To the empty hand
To the thirsty soul
Where the tears run dry
And the joy is scarce
To the shattered heart
We will find You there
- Wild Heart
This year has been absolutely amazing. We kicked things off in January opening for Hillsong United in Hawaii, toured the US and UK for several months with Rend Collective, our first label-released album, Wild Heart, reached #1 on the iTunes Christian charts in both the US and UK, we toured the US again this summer with Kari Jobe, Elevation Worship, and Hillsong Worship, joined with 10,000 people at the Honda Center in Southern California, made our first television appearance, and released two singles to radio.
But in the face of so much joy, there’s a quiet pain that remains unspoken.
This has been a year of heartache for my family, my church, and millions of black lives around the world. I’ve felt a growing disparity between justice and praise - people who confess Jesus with their lips, but remain action-less. It’s becoming more difficult for me to hear the praise songs of God’s unconditional, unrelenting, unwavering love, when I continue to witness the lack of love within the local Church as we fail to respond to these horrendous events. I believe the first healthy step of action is to enter into a time of lament and mourning.
Recently an unarmed black man was shot in cold blood by officers down the street from my house. Our church pastors rallied together outside his home to mourn and pray with the man’s wife and children. However instead of showing the family compassion, people walked by parading around like monkeys, mocking my pastor and the others gathered around those who were mourning. I’m tempted to keep my voice quiet and my personal convictions tamed, however as a follower of Jesus and leader in the Church, I can’t remain silent.
Mourning is the lost art of worship. We love to party. We love to celebrate. We're constantly attracted towards big, bright, sparkly worship. And that’s a good thing! The Psalms are filled with anthems of bright colorful celebrations and praises. In fact, of the 150 Psalms, over 60% are about praise and celebration, rejoicing for all the incredible things God has done. Still, 40% of the Psalms are about lament or mourning. In our worshipping, preaching, singing, teaching, talking, community-living as Christians we tend to ignore or just utterly cut-out one of the most significant disciplines of worship found in the Bible, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Earlier this year our Church in Los Angeles got together for night of lament. We turned down the voices of Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and listened to the voices of the slain - the husbands, the wives, the daughters, the sons, the sisters, and the brothers of the lives whose breath was snatched far too early this year. We wept. We prayed. We spoke their names out-loud. We repented. We mourned. It was uncomfortable. It was costly. It was counter-cultural. It was exactly how sacrificial, biblically-informed worship should feel.
The danger of living under the popular platitude of “All Lives Matter” is that it doesn’t require anything of us; doesn’t require action, or really any ounce of compassion at all. It allows us to continue to go on about our lives while ignoring the specific names, families, and faces of those lives who are suffering. But like a surgeon, I believe the Holy Spirit wants do repair on the heart of His Church. If our hearts don’t break with Black Lives, we’ve missed it. If our hearts don’t break with Blue Lives, we’ve missed it. If our hearts don't break with Latino Lives, we've missed it. If our hearts don’t break with LGBTQ Lives, we’ve missed it. The list goes on and on. However, I suppose the point is that if our heart, as the Church, breaks for one people group more than another, we've still missed it. If we as the Church do not rise up and take an active unified stand against the systematic means of oppression around us, we will cease to be the original Church Jesus’ formed. But let it begin with compassion. Let it begin with mourning.