This winter I had the pleasure of journeying alongside Faith Lutheran Church in Chico, California for a six-week residency. It was a rich time of music making, learning, and reflection, as the community began to discover its voice anew. It was also a joy to collaborate with clergy, musicians, and lay leaders to plan worship for Lent and Holy Week.
As often happens in these extended visits, I felt called to compose something specifically for the community. It’s a creative challenge, on one hand, but also allows me to process and internalize work we’re doing together and even challenge and inspire the congregation in new ways. The song that emerged for Faith Lutheran was inspired by readings for the First Sunday of Lent (Year A), especially the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s temptation and its echoes within the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
As Pastor Ben Colahan articulated in our planning conversations, God blessed life in all its forms from the beginning and called it ‘very good.’ But the serpent attempted to plant seeds of doubt, suggesting the Creator might not have told the truth about all the trees of the garden.
A similar theme emerges in Matthew's account of Jesus's temptation in the wilderness. The Tempter comes with sly half-truths, suggesting that God’s provision, love, and care might not be enough to withstand the challenges of the wilderness. The affirmation just spoken over Jesus a few verses earlier – ‘You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased’ – is called into question.
We face the same questions, temptations, and doubts. Voices around us and voices within us eat away at our trust in God's unfailing love and goodness. We wonder if we will have enough and either overindulge or live from a scarcity mindset to compensate. We wonder if we are enough and our insecurity manifests as pride and defensiveness or paralyzing low self esteem and fear. We all act in ways that tarnish or deny the image of God within us. We all sin.
But rather than focus only on the ways that we have failed or fallen short, how might our Lenten journey (indeed, our life journey) change if we begin with an affirmation of our beauty and worth as beloved children of God? When doubting voices inevitably come, will we let them derail or defeat us? Or can we learn to respond with a powerful assertion of trust – ‘God calls me good, beloved child. I am a treasure deeply prized’ - and live in freedom and love instead of fear.
The Sunday we introduced God Calls You Good, I first sang it over the congregation and then invited them to echo each phrase. As the tune grew more comfortable, we turned and sang it to each other, both as a reminder and a blessing. Finally, we made the language personal, and sang it to our hearts.
Feel free to use the song wherever and whenever you like. While written specifically as a sermon response, it could be equally useful for Baptism, Confirmation, Assurance of Pardon, as a Benediction, or for personal meditation and prayer.
Take a listen below and download a copy of the score which is free for a limited time.
God calls you good, beloved child.
You are a treasure deeply prized.
And you can say to every doubting voice,
'God calls you good, beloved child.'
God calls me good, beloved child.
I am a treasure deeply prized.
And I can say to every doubting voice,
'God calls me good, beloved child.'