Amos Coltrane Francisco was welcomed into this world on April 14, 2017 or, as it’s known in our house, “Ruination Day.” Amos, you share your birthday with the opening of SunTrust Park, Greg Maddux, David Justice, and Steve Avery, so it’s hard not to take the timing of your birth as anything other than a sign. But… April 14th is also the day Lincoln was shot & the Titanic struck an iceberg, so we won’t read too much into it.
Here, little one, is why your weird parents named you as we did:
Amos was a simple shepherd before God raised him up to be a prophet and gave him his unenviable task: proclaim God’s coming judgment to Israel. You see, Amos lived in a time of great prosperity in Israel, a time where many were quite faithful in practicing the external rites of religion, but God held this against them:
God’s people loved comfort and wealth more than God Himself. They drew up how to practice their faith according to their own wishes & convenience, rather than listening to their loving Maker’s repeated calls for them to “seek me and live” (5:6).
The main way that the people’s rebellion was displayed was that they “oppress[ed] the poor and crush[ed] the needy” (4:1). The people lived as though their wealth was meant solely for their own benefit and so hardened their hearts against the poor (2:6-7). Through Amos, God called his people to
“Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate… Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”
What does it mean to establish justice at the gate? It means to strive to cultivate a society that is free from oppression, exploitation, and injustice; it is a call for us to live in such a way that reflects God’s own heart for the poor, the fatherless, the widow, the foreigner, the minority, and the refugee. It is a call for those of us who claim to know the Creator God to use our time, our influence, our talents, and our wealth to “let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6).
Amos, our prayer for you is that you would be a voice for the voiceless and a defender of the defenseless, that you, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed, would “not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Our prayer is that you would use your time, your influence, your talents, and your wealth to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. You know, like Batman.
Though we would be loath to admit it now, during the first few years of our marriage, Erin and I were (nearly) pure romantics. After a tumultuous season of dating, marriage had come as such a wonderful, joyous relief to us. In that beautiful, sweet season, we wanted capture every second and squeeze every last ounce of enjoyment out of it. We were up for any adventure, and we constantly thought of ways to transform the simple, ordinary moments of our new lives together into the extraordinary.
Dinners alone became romantic dinners by candlelight, punctuated by the jazz bouncing off the walls in our tiny, one-bedroom apartment. And we fancied ourselves cultured.
The soundtrack to most of those nights was John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, a chance purchase that has become a mainstay for our family over the years. Even our kids know where to find the Coltrane albums on our shelves, and they know that dinner-time is usually Coltrane-time.
Even though we’ve come to enjoy many other of Coltrane’s works, A Love Supreme has been the signature soundtrack of our home as our family has progressed from two naïve, star-crossed lovers, wide-eyed with wonder at the possibilities before them, to a family of five who have now called The Magic City home these fourteen years.
There’s something positively otherworldly about the album, something in part meditative and enrapturing, majestic and unassuming. To hear Coltrane describe it, A Love Supreme was composed as a sort of offering. In light of God’s grace towards him, he asked God for the privilege to bring others joy through his music & believed that A Love Supreme was God’s answer to his prayers. From his liner notes:
During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.
As time and events moved on, a period of irresolution did prevail. I entered into a phase which was contradictory to the pledge and away from the esteemed path; but thankfully, now and again through the unerring and merciful hand of God, I do perceive and have been duly re-informed of His OMNIPOTENCE, and of our need for, and dependence on Him. At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT … IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY – A LOVE SUPREME –
This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say ‘THANK YOU GOD’ through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor…
May we never forget that in the sunshine of our lives, through the storm and after the rain – it is all with God – in all ways and forever. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.
With love to all, I thank you, John Coltrane
“One night, after an exceptionally brilliant performance of the suite… [Coltrane] stepped down from the stage and was heard to say, ‘Nunc dimittis.’ These are Simeon’s words in Luke 2 after he had seen the promised Messiah. They mean, essentially, ‘I could die happy now.’ Coltrane claimed to have had an experience of God’s love that liberated him from the work for the sake of the work itself. He had been given God’s power and had felt God’s pleasure. Coltrane had stopped making music for his own sake. He did it for the music’s sake, the listener’s sake, and God’s sake (Every Good Endeavor, 240-241).”
It is our prayer, son, that whatever you do, you would do it all for the glory of God and for the joy of all people, & that in your work you would feel the smile of God upon you.