by Angela Khabeb—
When I was eight, my father took my older sister, Chrystal, and me to an Andraé Crouch concert. Often called “the father of modern Gospel music,” Crouch was playing at the historic Orpheum Theater in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. The experience carried me into the sacred reality of the beloved community. Held in the warmth of the hallelujah hum, amid joyful tears and people on their feet, I sang along: “Soon and very soon/ We are going to see the King. /Hallelujah! Hallelujah!/ We are going to see the King.”
Encountering faith so profound, praise so powerful, was almost frightening—like seeing the ocean for the first time. As if in one voice, the theater rang with the proclamation of our Resurrection hope. As a child, I lacked the life experience to adequately describe what happened that night. But hindsight is generous. In retrospect, Crouch acted as a midwife, transforming that theater into a delivery room, swaddling us in the sturdy tension of already and not yet. In that moment, soon and very soon became here and now.
As a child, I was no stranger to Crouch’s music. Dad’s small vinyl collection included some of Crouch’s records. I knew every word of “Soon and Very Soon,” and I embraced the idea of a place without tears, pain or suffering, never considering that I would have to die to experience it. Each verse held a promise: “…see the King… no more crying…no more dying… Hallelujah!” But as I grew older, I sought not only a promised, distant paradise, but hope for today—a sooner “soon.”
Like many, I’ve experienced tears, pain and heartache by the fistful. When our daughter was stillborn, well-meaning people tried to comfort me with the hope of heaven. “Don’t worry,” they offered. “One day you will be with her again.” Or: “Look on the bright side. Now you have an angel in heaven watching over you.” It was as if the Resurrection was used to silence my lament.
Like the psalmist, I cried, “How long, O Lord?” Make no mistake, I do believe that soon I will cry my last tear. I do believe that soon I will hold my baby in my arms again. But where is my Resurrection hope this side of eternity?
Or take those among us who struggle greatly to make ends meet. Certainly life is more than living paycheck to paycheck, finally saving a little money just to have your only car break down, your furnace give up the ghost or your family member require an unexpected medical expenditure. What does Resurrection hope look like when you’re in survival mode? Survival mode was designed to save our species in times of danger or tragedy. In times of tragedy, it is a gift. But it is not meant to be a way of life. Staying in survival mode too long robs us of our full humanity.
The Rev. Angela Khabeb is associate pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She has an amazing husband, Benhi, and three spectacular children, Konami, Khenna and Khonni.