Were You There?
Lenten Reflections on the Spirituals
by Luke A. Powery
Pub Date 08 Jan 2019
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Valuable not only for their sublime musical expression, the African American spirituals provide profound insights into the human condition and Christian life. Many spirituals focus on the climax of the Christian drama, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the ways in which those events bring about the liberation of God’s people.
In these devotions for the season of Lent, Luke A. Powery leads the reader through the spirituals as they confront the mystery of Christ’s atoning death and victory over the grave. Each selection includes the lyrics of the spiritual, a reflection by the author on the spiritual’s meaning, a Scripture verse related to that meaning, and a brief prayer.
"Open the pages of Luke Powery's new devotional and discover in those poignant African-American Spirituals of times past a powerful, living faith in Jesus, reminding us that, despite all we face, we too shall overcome."
—The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church
“In this book, Luke Powery, teacher, singer, and preacher, blesses his readers by reflecting on the treasured Spirituals of enslaved Africans concerning their suffering, trouble, and sorrow while continuing to trust in God’s power of deliverance. All who meditate on these songs will be inspired by their message.”
—Peter J. Paris, Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor, Emeritus, Christian Social Ethics, Princeton Theological Seminary
“We live in an era of widespread suffering, and this powerful book offers a time-tested path into and through it. Instead of drawing his reflections from Scripture, Luke Powery draws from the Spirituals found across the Black church traditions, music that some have called a ‘Third Testament.’ There is nourishment here for heart and soul—solace, strength, and transcendence in music created by people who have known personal and communal pain that I can barely imagine. By joining the voices of the marginalized with the ‘high church’ pattern of the liturgical year, Luke has bridged two worlds in these pages, a work of reconciliation in itself. If you crave the bread of life in an era of spiritual famine, I believe that you will find as much sustenance in this feast as I have.”
—Parker J. Palmer, author of On the Brink of Everything, Healing the Heart of Democracy, A Hidden Wholeness, and Let Your Life Speak
“Luke Powery has written powerful contemporary psalms of lament, psalms of hope. This volume offers sorrow, silence, and song as spaces in which our truest selves can dwell with God. A Lenten treasure.”
—Lauren Winner, author of Still and The Dangers of Christian Practice