1. The Good News

From the recording Somewhere to Begin

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The Good News

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In Knoxville, TN in 2008, a man opened fire during Sunday morning service at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church killing 2 adults and wounding 7 (about 200 congregants were present). That morning the children were performing the play “Annie Jr.”. The gunman stated his hatred of Liberals, Gays, and Blacks motivated the shooting.

Some years later a woman who grew up in that congregation (though not present the day of the shooting) approached me after a concert. She asked if I would consider writing a song about what happened. When reading and listening online to stories and reactions surrounding the church shooting, I was immediately struck by the imagery of the gun entering into the sanctuary hidden in a guitar case. A weapon of hatred in the guise of an instrument of harmony.

Her request happened to come during the same time my partner Paula and I were in the midst of preparations for our wedding. One morning, an editorial in our local paper “greeted” my partner and me as we sat sipping our morning coffee. It stated how the Gospel can change the lives of gay people, that “any straightforward reading of Scripture is that the homosexual lifestyle is not a wholesome one.” I was struck by the parallel images of the gun disguised as a guitar, and the “clobber passages”—scripture passages selectively touted against GLBTQ people—in the guise of “the good news.” Later that morning I sat down with my guitar and wrote this song.


The Good News

Oh, the gospel, the good news
Walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes
Somebody hungry—get some food on their plate
Pray for those who put you down, love the ones you hate

Down in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sunday morning, sanctuary
A man pulls out a loaded gun from a guitar case
Bullets fly in sacred space, oh, blood on lace
A weapon of hate in a masquerade
As an instrument of song and praise
Played on a Sunday morning in a house of grace

And the children were singing,
“The sun‘ll come out tomorrow”
Shine it’s light, clear away the sorrow
But memories, you cannot sweep away
Open fire on that day of the children’s play

Oh, the gospel, the good news
Walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes
Somebody bound in chains—set them free
Look out for the last and the least, love your enemy

You can open up the holy book, pick out a phrase
Like lifting a loaded gun from a guitar case
Pull on the trigger—the scripture flies
Somebody nods their head, somebody dies, somebody cries
Bullets fly, all dressed up in disguise
As the word of love and life from the Giver of Our Days
Another heart shot down in a house of grace

And the children are singing, “This Little Light of Mine…
Hide it under a bushel, no, I’m gonna let it shine”
And silently comes a shadow of doubt
Somebody dims their light, another lamp goes out

Oh, the gospel, the good news
Walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes
Somebody thirsty—get ‘em water to drink
Pray for those so sure they know just what the good Lord thinks

© 2010 Sara Thomsen