When The Saints… Yeah, I Want to be One of Them

Corrie Ten Boom
There are heroes, and then there are heroes. When Wolverine extends his adamantium claws, goes on the rampage, and saves the day despite his tortured self, I'll admit I've felt like the day's been saved a time or two. 

But those heroes fade away. People who try to be lone gunmen end up losing out in the end. Oh sure, the world paints them as saints or overcomers for a while, but when you walk alone to save the day, you walk home alone at the end of the day.

The heroes I'm talking about are the next door neighbors who take in Jews during WWII at the risk of their lives. Corrie ten Boom is a woman I deeply admire, and have written about before. Her vulnerability about her anger and bitterness as she lived through Ravensbruck, lost her family, and yet still discovered "there's no pit so deep…", and she went on to humbly share her story around the world for the rest of her life. That's love. It was love to choose to go against the ruling authority, it was love to see all people as God's beloved creation, and it was love to choose against her human anger and let God transform her very person.

Billie_Holiday_1943-02[1] Lady Day… there are a good deal of white people who believe that in our post-modern age, there is no racism. It's over. It's done. Sadly, it's our very whiteness that lies to our souls. Our ignorant veneer of colour blindness upholds institutions and communities of oppression — it makes them ordinary — so ordinary we are revolted to be even accused of them being racist. 

Billie was a voice for her time — and ours. Her rendition of the poem, "Strange Fruit" (written by a Jewish man, by the way), began to tear down walls that not even she could have anticipated. Yes, her life was met with much tragedy, but her message began to open the eyes and the minds of many who didn't even know that strange fruit was still being harvested in the American South. 




Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a peace activist who stood for the love and grace of Jesus Christ, even when Adolph Hitler demanded German churches tow the Nazi party line. Bonhoeffer's founding of the Confessing Church raised up a generation of German leaders to remain true to the Prince of Peace, and not the Fuhrer. While his stance of non-violence was placed at odds with his involvement in a failed assasination attempt on the Fuhrer's life, he showed himself as a broken man, saved by God, conflicted with the world. He walked to his execution a free man, already knowing his real destination. 





Sara Groves wrote the song, When the Saints. The lyrics rise up in me whenever I hear it — a Song from the Underground. It was beautifully presented at our church's recent Missions Fest. While I have shared only 3 of the figures who have shaped my life personally (there are many others of all colours and ethnicities), I wish the lyrics and the music to be dedicated to the Nameless Ones — the ones who are known by God, but hardly by humanity. Yet they dwell within the hardest places of our world. They are they heroes — unworshiped, but dearly loved; un-idolized, but fully blessed; unknown, and content to be so. 

BTW… the brief images of the Sally Ann parade in the music video brought tears to my eyes. There I saw my parents… my grandparents… my great-grandparents… and my great-great grandparents… so speaking of heroes and saints…

I wanna be one of them.

When The Saints

By Sara Groves

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lord i have a heavy burden of all i've seen and know
it's more than i can handle
but your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and i can’t let it go

and when i'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

i think of paul and silas in the prison yard
i hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

and when the Saints go marching in
i want to be one of them

lord it's all that i can't carry and cannot leave behind
it all can overwhelm me
but when i think of all who've gone before and lived a faithful life
their courage compels me

and when i'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

i think of paul and silas in the prison yard
i hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
i see the shepherd moses in the pharaohs court
i hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

chorus x2

i see the long quiet walk along the underground railroad
i see the slave awakening to the value of her soul
i see the young missionary and the angry spear 
i see his family returning with no trace of fear
i see the long hard shadows of calcutta nights
i see the sister standing by the dying man’s side
i see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
i see the man with a passion come kicking down that door

i see the man of sorrow and his long troubled road
i see the world on his shoulders and my easy load



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