I had the choice of either writing a 25-page research paper or submitting a creative project for Dr. J. Scott Horrell‘s Trinitarianism class in 2006. I had been doing my coursework with Philadelphia as a context for mission, so for me it was a no-brainer. The spoken word piece was born.
The challenge before me: take the arguments for the existence of God and put them into a culturally relevant art form. I worked through my notes and attempted to translate them into words and rhythms that might draw in a spoken word audience. I thought about my own experiences, the challenges in that urban context, and the barriers and open doors that might hinder/help people consider the existence of God.
I recorded the poem and submitted it for my class without music, but I knew that if I ever performed it, I’d need something simple that wouldn’t compete with the lyrics. Fast forward to 2014–as we rehearsed the piece for the live album recording, Troy Chambers started playing this ridiculous accompaniment on the Rhodes–my husband Aaron was excited! The steady drumming by Vernon Mobley and percussive highlights by Robin Williams push the rhythmic flow of the poem. Chris Stevens‘ horns and Harry Wilson‘s guitar licks add a perfect balance of brightness and texture to the warmth of Troy’s chords on the Rhodes.
In our gatherings
I have done this piece a few times at Epiphany Fellowship on a Sunday morning. We placed it right before the sermon as a way to encourage the congregation engage with God intellectually. Our hope is that this spot prepared our hearts to hear, receive, and respond to the Word of God as it was preached.
How it speaks to me
As I wrote “Trinity,” I was challenged to get beyond the walls of seminary, of church, and think about how to communicate with someone who might never attend my class or my church. What do they listen to? What are their concerns? How can I help them to see God in a way that is meaningful to them, that doesn’t make them jump through cultural hoops to understand Him? The process of writing challenged me to think missionally, to love people I had never met, to think more highly of God, and to be more concrete in my thoughts and speech about Him. Doing theology isn’t simply an exercise in tossing around philosophical terms in a bubble–it’s humbly accepting that I don’t know everything, but lovingly communicating what I do know, while I hopefully and prayerfully consider how God might use it to transform the life of another.
How it can speak to you
Here are a few questions to reflect on as you listen to “Trinity” today:
- If a 5-year old asked you to explain the Trinity, how would you do it? Would the answer be the same for a 19-year old girl with language barriers and emotional scars? What about a 34-year-old housewife and mom? A 77-year-old recovering addict? What do you need to know about God and about people to tailor your speech in ways that communicate love to different types of people?
- Although the Bible doesn’t expressly use the term “trinity” to explain God, where does the Bible speak clearly about the three persons of the Godhead in context with each other?
- How can you orient your life to engage with God at a deeper intellectual level? What tools do you need? What people can help you on this journey?
Centered was released on 1/30/2015, by God’s grace. Thanks so much to everyone who has already supported the project and spread the word to others!
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about the album or about today’s #SundaySong, how God is using it in your life, etc.