Love knocks and waits for us to hear

Katrina DowlingMusic2 Comments

Bossa nova means “new style” but it comes organically out of Brazilian genres such as samba; “new” does not mean completely different, but a new flowering from the same branch. Bossa nova has the same rhythms as samba, but played more slowly, and the playing and singing is always soft and gentle.

We learned the bossa nova setting of Daniel Charles Damon’s “Love knocks and waits for us to hear” at St Luke’s on 19 February as a way of exploring this text:

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:38-48[1]

This text looks very demanding and living it out would be difficult. So it’s refreshing to get a feel for the pulse of its spirit through the gentle rhythms of bossa nova. Suppose these precepts were given to you in the form of a love song that showed what Love offers you, so that you need only give out of what you’ve received. Damon’s song puts it this way:

Love knocks and waits for us to hear,
to open and invite:
Love longs to quiet every fear,
and seeks to set things right.

Love offers life, in spite of foes
who threaten and condemn;
embracing enemies, Love goes
the second mile with them.

Love comes to heal the broken heart,
to ease the troubled mind;
without a word Love bids us start
to ask and seek and find.

Love knocks and enters at the sound
of welcome from within;
Love sings and dances all around,
and feels new life begin.

By popular request, we’re singing this song again next Sunday (26 February), and, because we didn’t have time to share our responses when we were learning it on the 19th, I offer here some passages that you might find resonate with the lyrics, and encourage you (whether you were in the music session on the 19th or you’re encountering the song for the first time here) to interact with each other via the comments.

Images in verse 1

Love knocks and waits for us to hear,
to open and invite:

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

Revelation 3:20

Love longs to quiet every fear,
and seeks to set things right.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2

Images in verse 2

Love offers life, in spite of foes
who threaten and condemn;

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

embracing enemies, Love goes
the second mile with them.

Matthew 5:38-48 – see the top of the post

Images in verse 3

Love comes to heal the broken heart,

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,
and rescues them from all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the broken-hearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:17-18

He heals the broken-hearted,
and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;

Isaiah 61:1

     to ease the troubled mind;

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

John 14:27

without a word Love bids us start
to ask and seek and find.

Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.

Matthew 7:7

Images in verse 4

Love knocks and enters at the sound
of welcome from within;

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Love sings and dances all around,
and feels new life begin.

The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah 3:1

Please continue the conversation in the comments section – are there other Scripture passages that you feel speak through this song? Have you struggled with the text in Matthew 5 before, and is this a new way of encountering it? If you were at the music session on the 19th, how was your experience of meeting the Matthew text through a bossa nova?

[1] All Scripture in this post New Revised Standard Version.

2 Comments on “Love knocks and waits for us to hear”

  1. I was relieved to read Barclay’s commentary that ‘perfect ‘ meant to ‘fulfill your potential.’ That seemed possible and a challenge to help release another’s potential. This year I saw it from a different angle.. What if the “potential” was not about me so much as about God. God’s potential in me. Me just being a vessel for God’s amazing potential for loving reaching out to others.

    1. Yes there’s a lot in that short passage in Matthew that makes you question how it’s possible to live it out, isn’t there? Thanks for sharing some of the journey of your deepening insights on ‘be perfect.’ I’ll look again at the whole chapter in that light.

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