When I first started serving in churches while I was in college, I spent a lot of my time and energy in working with youth.
I guess I must have “aged out” of that challenging and exciting work because it has been forty years since that was a primary responsibility of mine. Nonetheless, I loved being with young people and was energized by their openness, their passions and principles.
There were songs we sang back then, many of which were popular with Christian youth around the country at the time like “We Are One in the Spirit” and “Pass It On,” etc.
However, there was another song I found in a youth ministry manual in those days and shared with various youth groups. It quickly became very popular for our crowd but was largely unknown when we met with other youth groups at camps and conferences.
I have thought of that song so often in recent years as we have struggled with how as Christians we are to relate to the “other,” be that another race, another ethnicity, another religion, another gender, another person to the right or left of us on the political spectrum.
And then the other day, while rifling through an old sermon file I found a copy of it. I don’t know who wrote it but the lyrics are as meaningful today as they were in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. They still speak to our calling as Christians and I hope and pray those young people who first loved them are still trying as adults to live by them in churches around this divided nation.
“Build a bridge because you love and really care,
Walk across, stand with your brother there.
Build a bridge because we’re called by God to be
Alive to one another, For Christ as set us free.
“A bridge is hard to build and we’re afraid that it might fall.
Too often it is easier to simply build a wall.
But from the Christian vantage point we’ll learn to view the need
To build a bridge of living faith, the structure will succeed.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see the gap a bridge must span.
We climb into our shells and then forget our fellow man.
We build our sep‘rate neighborhoods; we judge without a trial.
Yet God has placed us in this world to love and reconcile.
“But bridges must, like houses, on a firm foundation stand,
Because they’ll only wash away if they are built on sand.
Christ is the rock we’ll build upon, our bridge will be a sign
Of meeting, helping, loving, a communication line.
“The Holy Spirit leads us so God’s action we may see,
If Christians work together as a whole community
We won’t avoid deep differences but go the second mile,
We’ll build a bridge with words and deeds of love to reconcile.”