Did any of you catch last Sunday’s (24th Jan) ‘Songs of Praise’ on BBC1? If you did you will have heard the very uplifting clip of Stuart Townend and his band performing their song ‘Vagabonds’. And if you didn’t hear it – do take a few minutes to click on this link and listen to it! https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p021rbf6.
As the pandemic continues to dominate all our lives, I was struck by the following lines of the song:
“Come all you questioners
Looking for answers,
And searching for reasons
And sense in it all …
Come to the feast,
There is room at the table:
Come let us meet in this place.
With the King of all kindness
Who welcomes us in,
With the wonder of love,
And the power of grace.”
Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, David Zimmer, Stuart Townend, Ed Cash. Copyright © 2016 Getty Music Publishing (BMI) , Alletrop Music (BMI) and Townend Songs (PRS) (admin by Song Solutions www.songsolutions.org)
The song was written some years ago and the situation that we are in now was not its theme, but at a time when we are all seeking an answer to the question “why is this happening?” these verses resonated with me. Sadly the question, “Why, Lord?” is one to which there is no satisfactory answer, because at its core is the more profound question of why any suffering exists.
Yet despite everything, the invitation is there to all of us, including those “who feel at the end of the road”, to experience the welcome offered by “King of all kindness”: in other words, the Jesus who, in his humanity, understands our suffering.
Just before I heard Stuart Townend's song for the first time, I was reading the thoughts of an American priest, Fr. James Martin – in his essay ‘Faith in the time of Coronavirus’. In it, he reminds us that:
“... during his public ministry, Jesus spent a great deal of time with those who were sick. And before modern medicine, almost any infection could kill you. Thus, lifespans were short: only 30 or 40 years. In other words, Jesus knew the world of illness. Jesus, then, understands all the fears and worries that you have. Jesus understands you, not only because he is divine and understands all things but because he is human and experienced all things. Go to him in prayer. And trust that he hears you and is with you. We will move through this together, with God’s help.”
It struck me that for all of us who question the current situation and seek answers, this is the best advice that we can act upon. So, as the vaccine is rolled out and the future begins to look just a little bit brighter, let us reaffirm our trust in the King of all kindness - and above all, let us trust that in the wonder of His love and in the power of His grace, we can build a better world when we come through to the other side.