Searching for Soul, Courtesy of J. Cole

(Today’s First Grace UMC Sermon Follow Up)

Today I was responsible for the sermon at my church. We are in the Jazz Fest season in New Orleans, and next Sunday we’ll have a jazz worship service. I wanted to share some sermon talking points and media that can be used for deeper reflection.

The Biblical scripture was Psalm 40. I use the Message version translation.

The hip hop scripture was J. Cole’s new song, “Want You to Fly” featured on his recent HBO documentary.

I set the stage by acknowledging the tension that music has created in families and society, referencing a 1921 Ladies Home Journal article, “Does Jazz Put the Sin in Syncopation” by Anne Shaw Faulkner.

My points from Psalm 40 and J. Cole’s song:

  1. Both David and J Cole express a belief that God believes they have worth and value; our job is to make sure everyone knows their worth and value.

A couple of other items for further reflection. Here is a great podcast with my friend Dr. James Peterson on Kendrick and J. Cole. He lectured last year for my PHI444 class using both as subjects.

Here is a recent article about rap and religion- there are a good number of articles like this being written. It references Kanye’s SNL performance of “Ultralight Beam.” My man Derrick “Fonzworth Bentley” Watkins skyped into class a few weeks after to discuss with us (you can see him in the performance). I’ve also linked the performance. This was a great example of the meshing of the secular and the sacred. There was even criticism of Kirk Franklin for participating.

And I’ll end with J. Cole’s song, “False Prophets,” which was the final exam from Fall 2016.

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

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