Rev. Dr. Jalene Chase
The song “Black Man" is from the 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder. This is one of my favorite albums. Wikipedia (yes, Wikipedia) writes that it debuted at number one, the third album to do so and the first for an American musician. It stayed there for 13 consecutive weeks. Several singles from the album were released successfully. To me, every song boldly spoke of topics that shaped and shook society at the time. Years later, in 2006, I hummed or sang the songs so often that a CD was a parting gift when I left secular employment for my first church appointment. The title may make you think it’s exclusive to one race of men, but the lyrics are inclusive and speak of equality. Listen to it or read the lyrics. It’s a rhythmic history lesson about the interrelatedness of all men and women. The message in the music is that it took all races to build this country. The chorus speaks timeless words that are very much relevant today:
We pledge allegiance all our lives to the magic colors Red, Blue and White. But we must all be given the liberty that we defend. For with justice not for all men, history will repeat again. It’s time we learned, this world was made for all men.
That’s profound. When you listen to the entire song, you can’t help but notice the diversity. A masterpiece. Well, I think that it is. In a time where we appear to find reasons to separate from one another, this song reminds us that we go further if when recognize the important contribution of the Black, White, Red, Yellow, and Brown men and woman. It saddens me when we spew divisiveness. Let’s covenant to look at the things that we have in common. There is room at the table for everyone; if not, split the table in half and add a leaf. That’s what we do for big celebratory meals like Thanksgiving. I know it’s February, but we don’t have to confine extending hospitality to only one day.
The song means even more to me now as I help navigate the cultural changes emerging in our church. Seeing people of all races working together is the masterpiece that the God of my understanding created. That’s my observation, and I’m sticking with it. If you want to share your thoughts, join us. We have a nontraditional worship time, 9:45am Sundays. We are intentional about including the cultures that worship with us. We have a nursery and a sign language interpreter available during worship. You can learn about us on our webpage www.eumcbeltsville.com or Facebook www.facebook.com/groups/EUMCBeltsville/. Until next time.