Scott Weidler is Program Director for Worship and Music at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Chicago, IL. He is a Music that Makes Community Presenter and has been Board of Trustees Member since 2014.
Find the song listing for Come, Come Whoever You Are in our MMC Songs Database here.
She was an older, Swedish woman who had clearly been a faithful Lutheran her whole life. She knew that Luther’s Small Catechism included the question – What does this mean? – over and over again, each time succinctly providing the “approved” answer.
When I introduced the Rumi text, “Come, come whoever you are,” one Lent, she habitually asked, “But Scott, what does this mean?” Luckily, she’s wise, open-minded and inquisitive. We had a delightful conversation, wandering phrase by phrase through Rumi’s poignant text, discovering that it just might mean different things to different people. It might mean different things to me on different days. The answers to deep questions aren’t always as easy as expected or desired.
Come, come whoever you are:
Really? Whoever I am? You don’t know how messed up I am. Really?
worshiper, wanderer, lover of leaving.
Not enough. Often (even though I hide it well). What might I need to leave behind?
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Which caravan? My life? Our country? The church?
Good reminder because feelings of despair are sadly familiar.
Though you have broken your vows
What vows? Even the ones I made to myself that no one knows about?
a thousand times, come, come again all.
Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven times; Rumi says a thousand times, but God doesn’t count. Forgiveness – the call to reconciliation – is eternal.
For too many, Lent is perceived not only as a time of confession and repentance, but of deep sadness and gloom. Music is reserved, maybe even maudlin. Guilt is often internalized during this seemingly eternal season. But there is a more wholesome (which is very old) way of understanding Lent.
The prophet Joel reminds us to “return to the Lord your God, who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” Lent is about reconciliation, about returning to God; not because of guilt or obligation, but because of God’s grace and mercy. Lent is about getting a fresh start; not because we deserve it, rather because God’s love is abundant. Certainly, confession and repentance are a valuable part of the Christian life and, absolutely, the church needs time to pull back, to regroup in quietness and stillness, just as we need these times in our personal lives. But the motivation is not guilt and despair. The motivation is love – the eternal, abundant love which God offers and we share with one another. Sometimes this love emboldens us to leave things behind in order to be reconciled with God and one another.
It’s a good thing that the seasons of the church keep coming back every year. No matter how hard we try, we keep messing up and need the constant renewal that Lent offers. Over and over again, the Holy One calls us to return.How have you incorporated paperless songs into gatherings or services during Lent? Share your stories in the comments below. If you know of a paperless song well suited for Lent that isn't listed, you can add a listing to the MMC Songs Database.