Advent songs for Ferguson

from The Many Website, lyrics from “The Longest Nights”. 

I’ve been reading “Radical Reconciliation“, and one of the things the authors talk about is that mega-churches are now some of the most diverse churches in America. (“Diverse” means that there’s at least 25% people who aren’t white who attend…the percentage might actually be smaller than that, I don’t remember. And it doesn’t refer to leadership etc.)

On one hand, it sounds like progress, but on the other hand, the authors found that these churches were not really diverse. They did nothing different than their all-white mega-church counterparts. People of color were welcomed, and could attend, but were expected to adapt to the majority.

The authors go on to talk about the early church, where Jews and Romans both claimed Christ as King and met together to encourage and strengthen each other. Jews were an oppressed people. The Romans were colonizers, powerful, privileged. The Romans were hated by the Jews.

When the Christians came along, Rome despised them, seeing them as another Jewish sect.

And yet, something strange was happening. The good news of Christ wasn’t only for the poor and oppressed Jews, it was also for the powerful, privileged Romans. And the Spirit was touching the hearts of the Romans, and they were turning to Christ to be set free from their sin and learning what it meant to be his follower. And that meant they joined those early Jewish disciples. They lumped themselves in with the lower class. Romans steeped in ancient philosophers learned from Jewish fisherman. Becoming a Christian in ancient Rome, as a Roman, meant going from being at the top of the privileged pile, to being flung down to the bottom of the social order. It cost something.

And it cost the Jews. They had to make space for these Romans, these people who had oppressed them. They had to welcome them as brothers and sisters. They had to grit their teeth and say with Paul, “There is no Jew nor Gentile, no slave nor free, no male nor female, for we are all one in Christ.” Not easy. But it’s the kingdom.

That’s the kind of reconciliation we don’t see happening very often in America. We see big white churches saying, “Yes, anyone is welcome to come over here and join us!” but we don’t often see privileged Christians standing in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in their contexts, where they are.

We don’t see it in big things: white Christians sitting up and holding vigil with their black neighbours when black people are shot in the streets.

But we don’t see it in small things either. Like my sister-in-law’s mostly white mega-church that proudly sang contemporary worship songs  in Spanish, until they asked one of the Spanish church leaders, who mentioned if they really wanted to be diverse and inclusive, then they’d sing a Spanish worship song, not just one translated from English.

So this is why I love The Many. They sing Advent laments for Ferguson. They turn the Magnificat into a gospel choir number. They sing about the proud falling down, but grace falling free. They sing happy, they sing sad. They have the full range of emotions we find in the Psalms. They describe themselves as, “a unique indie-folk-meets-gospel-choir-meets-worship-band sound.”  I know I just shared about them in my Advent music post, but these people deserved their own post.  From the style of music, to the content, this is worship where both the words and the music together reflect truth and diversity. This is what the church should be singing this season.

It’s free-audio, chords, everything. Go check it out.  And leave them a tip so they can keep making amazing music.

This is probably my favorite song. I heard it and thought of Ferguson, and then I read online that that was why it was written. Whaaat. Also, if you don’t follow Theology of Ferguson on medium or on twitter (@FaithinFerguson) check them out. They are doing an advent campaign #staywokeadvent about faith and justice this advent season. 

The Longest Nights

You shouldn’t be here tonight.

It doesn’t seem quite right.

Here where the cattle sleep, here where they keep their sheep.

Here in the mud and blood and hay

How could you end up in this place?

You shouldn’t be here tonight.

It doesn’t seem quite right.

Here where the shots ring out, where everything’s burning now.

Where there’s a hundred words for pain.

How could you end up in this place?


Emmanuel, Emmanuel God with us, love for us. 

Emmanuel, Emmanuel, born into the longest nights, Emmanuel. 


You shouldn’t be here tonight.

It doesn’t seem quite right.

Here where the hurt is deep, here where the wounded weep.

Where there’s so much we cannot say, how can you show up in this place?


Emmanuel, Emmanuel God with us, love for us. 

Emmanuel, Emmanuel, born into the longest nights, Emmanuel. 


In this scarred and starry night, in our aching, crying nights. In this trembling, tender moment before we start to see the light…Dawn. 

PS. Not to late to get my advent book. Ya’know??


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