Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. - Psalm 33:22
In a conversation with Krista Tippett, Dr. Vincent Harding scoffed at the jokes that get made about "Kumbaya."
The song calls him back to that Mississippi summer when he gathered with students and countless others in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. Risks were taken. Arrests were made. People were killed.
It was then that Robert Moses got up and spoke to the fears of these trainees. To this mostly white audience, he told them it was OK to pack up and go home. He was glad they had come this far. There would be no shame in leaving but he told them to think about it. Dr. Harding remembered moving among those groups of students, listening to their conversations. And what he heard was not calls home as had been suggested, but the longing prayer of that hymn:
Come by here, my Lord,
Somebody's missing, Lord, come by here.
We all need you, Lord, come by here.
The Lord looks down from heaven, it says in this old song, and sees all humankind. God knows it all while we can only hope.
And it can be ridiculous. That hope can feel impossible and maybe even more absurd than sitting around a campfire singing "Kumbaya."
But, in the old songbook of the church, hope is more than issues and ideas. Hope is where we find God. Hope is where we realize that someone is missing. Someone is crying. We need to find our hope in God and ask the Lord to come by here.
Sing with us, O God. We all need you, Lord, come by here.
Elsa Cook contributed this devotional to Rise Up! Spirituality for Resistance, a collection of devotionals to keep you burning bright without burning out, whether you’re leading a justice effort at church or heading out to join a local protest. You can order Rise Up! from UCC Resources.