Dance in the dark: Preaching the blues without despair

In his song “Call It Stormy Monday,” T-Bone Walker laments how bad and sad each day of the week is. But when he gets to Sunday he says, “Sunday I go to church, then I kneel down and pray.”

Walker’s song unintentionally lifts up the challenge that the blues placed before the church and that black religiosity still seeks to solve. “Stormy Monday” forces the listener to reject traditional notions of sacred and secular by connecting the pain of the week to the sacred service of Sunday. For Walker there is no strict line of demarcation between the existential weariness of a disenfranchised person of color and the sacred disciplines of prayer, worship, and service.

We must understand this connection if we are to reclaim the best of the preaching tradition. We must learn what I call the Blue Note gospel. If we are to get to our resurrection shout, we must pass by the challenge and pain called Calvary.