Formations 11.29.2015: Only Light

Isaiah 49:1-6

Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Christmas lights decorate Beirut near a neighborhood that was recently devastated by terrorists.

Christmas lights decorate Beirut near a neighborhood that was recently devastated by terrorists.

Dr. King’s words above have an especially fitting message for us as we consider recent events. On November 12, a crowded marketplace in the Bourg al-Baragneh neighborhood in Beirut was bombed, leaving hundreds dead and injured in the worst attack Beirut has seen in years. The following night, the same alleged terrorists strategically bombed and gunned crowded restaurants, a concert hall, and a stadium in Paris, destroying hundreds more lives—and leaving France in the worst destruction it has seen since World War II. That same day, a funeral in Baghdad was also targeted, adding dozens more lives to the list of terror victims.

Amid unspeakable global tragedy such as this, we are left with decisions to make. These are events that affect us all, and we have valid reasons to be afraid, to be angry, and to seek revenge. But we also have responsibilities to discern how best to proceed as global citizens, as Americans, and as Christians who are called to spread the word of salvation “to the end of the earth” (v. 6). How do we respond to such powerful hate? How do we approach such terrible darkness?

Davide Martello is no stranger to darkness. Performing under the name Klavierkunst, the pianist has travelled to conflict zones all over Europe, playing his grand piano for victims of devastation. He was watching the France v. Germany soccer match from a German pub when the attacks struck the Stade de France in Paris. As the magnitude of Paris’ destruction became clear, he decided to haul his piano over 400 miles to the Bataclan theatre overnight. When he arrived, he played music for the people mourning the loss of their loved ones and the pain and fear in the heart of their city. He played one song, John Lennon’s Imagine, and left, too overwhelmed to continue. In days that followed, Martello has frequently returned to the theatre to play Imagine, which has become an anthem of hope against world terrorism.

Martello’s rendition of the song has no words. It is short and simple, and it is something everyone has heard before. The quiet, simple music meets hatred with love, and darkness with light. Martello’s response to these acts of terror is an exemplary performance in shining light into the darkest of places.

As we begin an Advent season of celebration, we will explore the power of Biblical songs to celebrate Christ’s light. This week allows us to meditate on the servant’s song, and how we can find our strength in God to shine His light to the nations, even amid times of unspeakable tragedy.

Video: “Man plays John’s Lennon Imagine at Paris after the attack”, YouTube, 15 Nov 2015

“Paris attacks: pianist drove ‘400 miles through the night’ to pay tribute”, The Guardian, 15 November 2015


• How does God’s light shine through your actions and words?
• When have you felt like you have “used up [your] strength for nothing” (v. 4)? What makes it hard to let God’s light shine through you?
• What fears prevent you from shining God’s light in dark places?
• Think of other responses to these or other terrorist attacks that exemplify the message in this week’s Scripture text.

Reference Shelf

Music in Ancient Israel

Music played an important role in the religious activities of ancient Israel. The early bands of roving prophets used musical instruments such as the harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre in their processions (1 Sam 10:5). During the early stages of prophetism, minstrels performed as the prophet engaged in prophesying (2 Kgs 3:11, 5). But the major developments in Israel’s sacred music came from her worship, worship that was focused on sacrifice and eventually institutionalized in the Temple. Perhaps the earliest forms of Israel’s sacred music consisted of nothing more than the accompaniment of a trumpet (Num 10:10). Apparently the greatest developments came with the monarchy and the building of the Temple. Though discussion continues about his role in these matters, David is identified as the one who initially organized the levitical musicians and singers (1 Chr 15-16), groups that later were part of the professional staff of the Temple.

Lamoine Devries, “Music/Musical Instruments,” Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Watson E. Mills et al. (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1990), 590.

Michelle Meredith is a graduate of Mercer University, where she was the editor for literary and arts magazine The Dulcimer. She taught third and fourth grade in Mississippi for two years with Teach for America and became even more obsessed with live music and southern food (don’t even get her started on Delta tamales). She loves comedy, board games, roller derby, and hanging out with her dog. She is happy to be back in Macon, Georgia as the associate editor of Formations.


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