By Tom Ehrich
Last year, singing with the Gospel Choir of Park Avenue Christian Church, I added my voice to a song called "I need you to survive."
Here's a version of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUUHPDUsLJ0&feature=youtu.be
Simple lyrics: "I need you, you need me, you are important to me, I need you to survive."
The song's "speaker" seems to be God. But it was also choir members looking at each other in these dangerous and troubling times. It was myself looking at my wife and children. It could be the anthem that citizens in Ferguson, MO, and every divided community sing to each other.
We could look at our fragile communities, the lives that God has given us as neighbors, and sing: "You are important to me, I need you to survive."
For this is God's truth in these times. Not naive wishful thinking that has zero chance of happening. This is God's truth. God needs us to survive. God needs us to know how important we all are to God, and how important we are to each other, though we don't always recognize it. Every life has value, every need deserves a hearing, every wound needs healing, every child needs sheltering.
When our Gospel Choir sang this song one Sunday, we held each other close. We swayed side to side, not because choreography required it, but because God enabled it.
As I listened to the song again, I imagined our choir walking down West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, singing and swaying, serenading the divided, and inviting others to sing along. That won't happen, of course. Ferguson has enough outsiders dabbling in their tragedy. But I pray that God will inspire a local choir to learn this song and teach it to others.
This isn't some soft and squishy liberal bromide. The most difficult thing to do is to make peace. It is always easier to make war. It is difficult to stand down, to stop shouting and shooting, and to let the battle go un-won.
Loving one's enemy, as Jesus said, is harder than loving a friend. Seeking oneness in the face of division requires far more of us than seeking victory requires.
Anyone can pull a pistol; it takes courage and character to join hands.