Answering the Call of Love GA2017
You may recall that Jason Shelton has preached on the metaphors of ableism that creep into our songs in his sermon: In Body or In Spirt. I encourage you to listen to it if you haven’t.
At General Assembly in 2017 we sang the new words he has proposed to replace the lyrics in his song, “Standing on the Side of Love.”
Sometimes we build a barrier to keep love tightly bound.
Sometimes our words themselves are the barriers.
The metaphors we use for the work of justice matter.
If we are called to be in this work together, then we have to understand when our words become barriers to full participation.
What does love call us to do? For some, it’s standing on the side of love. For some, standing is not an option. And the continued use of that metaphor is a painful reminder of the barriers to full inclusion of people with disabilities in our congregations and at our General Assemblies.
What is my responsibility as an artist when awareness of this pain comes to my consciousness?
I am clear that the SSL metaphor — as I intended it — has nothing to do with the physical act of standing. It’s about aligning ourselves with what love calls us to do. But I am also clear that intent is not the same thing is impact, and the impact of this metaphor has become a barrier for some among us.
Friends, when love calls, it sometimes asks us to let go of our attachments, and maybe even our t-shirts. I’m not sure what to do about those t-shirts, but I do know that love is calling us to a new and deeper awareness, and I can do something about the song that I wrote.
So I ask you to rise not in body, but truly to rise in spirit — mindful of all that might mean for you — and join me in Answering the Call of Love.
Watch ACL Resolution at General Assembly 2017 (skip to minute 52)
Then, Get your pens out. Make a few edits in your hymnal. Maybe even on your t-shirt, or bumper sticker. Because from here on out, we’ll be singing about answering the call of love.