Hello, Merry Mystics! My songwriting challenge continues with week three of my sermon series on the practical teachings of Jesus. This week’s message was about Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, with several relevant scripture readings (Luke 13:31-34, Matthew 5:39-41, Luke 6:27-28, and Luke 22:47-53).The hymn I wrote to go with it is ”We Are Called to Solve the Problem.” I thought my congregation deserved a break from having to learn new melodies, so I used a well-known hymn tune (BEECHER) for this one.
I have been training in a martial art (Karatedo Doshinkan) for more than thirty years; I have a title degree (Renshi) and a sixth degree black belt. People sometimes ask me how it is possible to practice karatedo while also trying to follow the way of one who spoke of loving enemies and humbly turning the other cheek. I explain that it isn’t a problem for me, because the Doshinkan Karatedo tradition is not generally aggressive or showy. In fact, I find that these two parts of my life fit together quite well.
Each attack is like a puzzle to be solved: how can I resolve this situation with minimum force? How can I defend myself, and defend those who can’t defend themselves, while not doing unnecessary harm? To make it even trickier: how can I do all this, while helping the attacker on a path to health and wholeness? I don’t claim to be very good at such puzzles. But it seems to me that my training helps me learn to solve them—in a way that is entirely consistent with the teachings of Jesus, and of course with the teachings of many other religious traditions.
In the video performance of this song, my friend Ron McCutchan leads a congregation in singing; Charlie Gebeck is the accompanist. As always, the sheet music is available in our Free Stuff area.
We are called to solve the puzzle of each twisted human will.
We are called to heal attackers, not just hit back harder still.
We are called to find solutions to each fallen human state.
We are called to break the cycle of returning hate for hate.
Every threat, a different answer, every lock, a different key.
Every evil act a challenge: how to set that person free.
Boldly speak the truth to power; meekly hear while others speak;
dauntlessly insist on justice; humbly turn the other cheek.
Jesus taught an unexpected way to counter each attack:
outmaneuver each aggressor, giving no aggression back.
Even forced to walk a mile, simply walk that mile again.
Even though the fox is coming, simply be the mother hen.
There is one who solves each puzzle, who can heal each fractured soul,
One who knows our incompleteness, knows the piece to fill each hole.
Knows the peace that makes us whole and, wholly holy, shows the way.
Called to learn that way, now let us to our Puzzle-Master pray.