Celeste swayed to the slow music that played almost continuously inside her head. She loved all music, but thought gospel music, in particular, was a gift to the heart, the head, and the Lord.
Celeste was born and raised in the shadow of the infamous Pratt Mine Slope Number 12 forced labor camp located on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama. Arrested, convicted and ultimately sold to the mine for fabricated crimes, many of the area’s family members died as slaves more than 40 years after slaves were emancipated.
Belonging to Kherut Baptist Church and having the privilege of hearing Reverend Aker’s uplifting sermons enabled many, including Celeste, to make it through those dark days. Even the name, Kherut, had a powerful meaning. It is Hebrew for freedom from slavery. Like many churches, hymns and psalms were sung, but songs of freedom were also a vital part of every parishioner’s Sunday experience.
Faith was the cornerstone upon which Celeste and most of the community built their lives. As time marched on, and Celeste has found herself mourning the loss community that church life offered her. She worried that today’s youths were missing out on a personal relationship with the Jesus she knew intimately and had relied upon often. It was this thought that was crossing her mind as Jisaiah, her 14 year old great grandson, entered the room singing and dancing to the music playing through his earphones. In a loud voice that was quickly becoming baritone, he sang:
“Yeah, we all down at the Jordan River
Spreadin’ hope, needin’ more than a sliver
Said don’t be a taker, be a giver
He is the truth, the life, aint no fibber
His cousin Johnny been savin’ our souls
Rise from the ashes, boy, rise from the coals
Yo, baby, you IS the sheep in His fold
He paid with His life; your heart His hand holds
Oh yeah, Jesus is my Lord and Savior
Viral on YouTube, new social media
Tweetin’ on Twitter, Bible on the Nook
Oh yeah, Jesus is my friend on Facebook”
Celeste smiled as she thought, “Well, it’s not Amazing Grace, but it’ll do.”
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