Monday, November 07, 2005

Amazing Grace

"When we sing the song in church," says Reverend Groover, "I look at the eyes of the women in my congregation. The first three verses are well known and they belong to everyone, even to the wealthy. But when we come to the fourth verse I have always said, 'This verse belongs to us,' because it speaks to our unique experience."

When I say that I don't know that verse, he reaches behind him for a song book and shows me the words.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

"When we come to those words, the deepest feelings stir. Then I see tears in the eyes of the youngest and the oldest, the eyes of the 16-year-old prostitute and of the 60-year-old great-grandmother." He cautions me, "Be careful of those prophecies of 'the last days' that you may hear. Remember where they come from. Some of the blood-and--thunder churches overdo this emphasis. Although I believe that there will be a 'last day,' the church should not be preaching this. We should not be speaking of apocalypse but of the words of Jesus: 'I came that you might have life and,' " he says with deepest emphasis, " 'that you might have it abundantly.' "

(from Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol)

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