I believe in God but haven’t been to church in a number of years. That’s a story in itself. Suffice to say, I’ve never quite fit into the traditional church environment. Maybe it’s the inner cynic inside of me, forever questioning the motives of these ‘too good to be true’ people I found myself hanging out with every Sunday. People who then often disappeared off the face of the planet for the remaining six days of the week, when I really needed them.
I’ve always felt an outsider when it comes to organised religion. It’s not that I’m out of my depth, more in the wrong swimming pool altogether. I’ve never truly fit in, despite the welcoming veneer and painted on smiles which greeted me every Sunday morning. It was all too cosy, too comfortable, which is strange as I never recall Jesus living that kind of life whenever I used to pick up my Bible.
On Friday night, the U.K. grime artist Stormzy headlined the Glastonbury music festival to an estimated 200,000 people. Millions more watched on television. Grime is a form of urban hip hop/rap which has swept the charts by storm this year. Stormzy’s recent single ‘Vossi Bop’ hit Number 1 and his second studio album is eagerly awaited by his army of fans. The artist and his musical genre are a phenomenon.
Stormzy has a social conscience. He raps about life on the streets, about major social-economic issues. His lyrics are intelligent and insightful, fuelled by a desire to expose the injustice he sees all around him. Topics include the epidemic that is knife crime, gang culture and racism. This is no brainless wannabe gangster. He writes with passion and purpose, spitting out his rhymes to promote important topics we so often turn our backs on.
The highlight of the show though, for me anyway, was when he slowed it down to perform his massive hit ‘Blinded By Your Grace.’ Backed by a soulful choir he revealed a deep faith which bolsters his career. Despite his tough guy image and, at times, expletive ridden lyrics, he laid himself bare as he sang a song of thanks to his God. And, cynical old me believed him. 200,000 voices sang along, mobile phones in the air. I remember when we used lighters but hey ho.
Many of the huge crowd and watching TV audience may have had no idea what the song was about. Maybe others did, but weren’t going to let a bit of ‘God talk’ get in the way of a good tune. And maybe, just maybe, for a few the penny dropped. They stopped and thanked God for everything He was doing in their lives. People who had never stepped foot in a church building before, suddenly found themselves surrounded by it. Proper church.