It is a surreal experience to be a minister in a non-christian environment and hear gospel songs. I enjoy it but I am always surprised. Alongside Kanye, The Roots, and others, comes Lauren hill belting out “Oh Happy Day.” It reminds me of being in Paris and hearing American music. The sound is immediately familiar, even comforting but at the same moment strange, because it is unexpected.
I know the people in this coffee shop enjoy the music, and are paying little attention. However it is difficult to hear “He taught me how to walk, walk and pray/ Oh happy day/ when Jesus walks/ he took my sins away” without wondering what, if anything, people think about the song. “Do they know what they are listening to” I wonder?
There is a man named Phillip in the bible who is by the side of the road and hears a man reading aloud the words of a prophet
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”(NRSV)
Phillip can’t resist asking the man “Do you know what you are reading?” Hearing these songs makes me feel the same way, I want to have a conversation with all the people around me, just to ask what they think about the music, if they like it and why. I know what it means to me but I want to know what it means to them.