poetic ideas or real needs?

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,


In a recent “worship time” (I do wish we would change the ways we describe some aspects of what we do when we meet together!) we were singing a song that has the lyric “To the widow and the orphan, Let the river of Your justice flow through us”

It’s a good, thoughtful song; but I couldn’t help but begin to think how easy it is to sing about some subjects without giving thought as to what they might imply in our contemporary western context.  Of course, NT scripture makes several references to caring for widows and orphans and, although I’m no expert on this, I’m guessing that widowhood was more common in those times as girls would be married to older men who died whilst their wives were still comparatively young.  There would have been no insurance coverage or benefits system and probably little opportunity for the widow to earn an income for herself, unlike today.  Similarly, excepting tragedy, we are not so often likely to see children orphaned in our modern society (again I’m referring to our own society rather than situations we may find elsewhere)

How easy it is to romanticise the idea of caring for “the widow and the orphan” when expressing the thought through the poetry of a “worship song” (see what I did with the quote marks again there?!)  What would the song sound like if we were to contextualise it for our own town or culture?  Somehow, though, singing the line “To the single mums, those struggling on benefits, and the homeless…” (insert your own thoughts there) wouldn’t sound quite as neat – maybe we’d even find it embarrassing to sing such words, even if they did scan with the verse 

Clearly the church has a responsibility to show justice and bring aid and kindness to all who are broken (including those who have lost loved ones) but this is no romantic, mystical notion.  Yes, our emotions should be stirred, but the outworking must surely be practical and immediate.  That’s why we read in Acts 6 that seven people were specifically appointed to deal with food distribution with the specific task of making sure that the widows (again insert a contemporary context here) were not overlooked.   Presumably some kind of funding must have been made available for this as well?

Food for thought?


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