Sunday, October 30, 2011

From Hip Hop to Gethsemane

Elisa Morgan, President Mission: Momentum, Publisher FullFill™

It was going on 11am and I sat -- still in my pj’s -- in a slant of sunlight, my slipper-socked feet tucked up underneath me. I was on an annual retreat with women I’ve known for years, catching up on all the layers of our lives.

One friend from Houston was mid-story about a church plant where she and her husband had committed themselves to invest. Since she’s fluent in Spanish and he’s brilliant with money and people, it seemed to make sense for them to venture out from the big, gorgeous, stained-glass cathedral of their upbringing to the multi-purpose facility miles away in an eclectic suburb. I can - with work - wrap my mind around their stunning immersion in a world so different from their “first culture.” I listened along until my friend uttered a sentence that suddenly garbled the context and tipped over my world.

“There’s a Hip Hop group in the Canterbury Hall at Gethsemane (the suburban building) that Jasmine leads and Umberto and Miguel are her favorite students.”


Hip Hop. Canterbury Hall. Gethsemane. Jasmine, Umberto, Miguel.

Wha. . .? How could such words be uttered in a single sentence? My mind reeled. What - and where - was she talking about?

Read them again: Hip Hop. Canterbury Hall. Gethsemane. Jasmine, Umberto, Miguel.

My mind left the sunlit room of my very familiar friends and roamed around such a curious collection of nationalities, origins, cultures and contexts. I wondered at the global reality of my world. The world I live in every day. I don’t speak Spanish - well at least not fluently. Sure, I travel a lot but am I really called to such a varied context? I mulled it over.

And BOOM. I saw it for myself: My friend in Houston who volunteers in her church and plays golf with her husband. Another woman I met in Ireland this summer who signs off her emails, “love and bubbles from your wee Irish chum.” My dear Kenyan dinner-mate who wept openly about not knowing if she would be “enough” for the TV show in Africa that God had opened up before her. My world, too, is braided with people who seemingly come from very different worlds and yet are not so different at all.

Canterbury, Umberto, Jasmine. Hip Hop.Words that have never before seemed to go together are now stacked sensibly alongside each other. Lives that would never have touched just five or ten years before, sit side by side and delve into the daily together.

Yesterday I stood at the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in DC and read the quotes surrounding the only African American individual sculpted on our nation’s mall. “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation. And this means we must develop a world perspective.”

The apostle Paul said something similar that surely Dr. King recalled. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:28

Hip Hop. Canterbury Hall. Gethsemane. Jasmine. Umberto. Miguel. All are in my world. Not far away down in another neighborhood or across an ocean a postcard away but here. And here to stay. My context is multi.

I shifted my legs underneath my pjs, returned to the room of ruminating and listened anew.


  1. I love this. I've grown to accept my plain whiteness, but I love being around all that color of other people and backgrounds and cultures. God loves variety. Boy, are we blessed when we get to experience it.

  2. That is beautiful. Every day every person every minute we have an opportunity for impact...different races and classes. The language if love and kindness thru Christ is universal and colorful.

  3. Thank you for listening when God spoke to you and allowing him to use you to empower others in him!

  4. I have the same feeling when I scroll through my facebook news feed and can't read the Swedish or Portuguese next to my friends' faces. It's wonderful to communicate with all kinds of people all over the world. Thank you for a thoughtful post.

  5. love this post. brought a smile to my face as I'm a hip hop dancer living out my faith in the dance community in Canada. Christ and hip hop have a lot of impact power :)