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Wild Wonder November 15: Steal Away to Jesus


Incarnation families are gathering on Sunday mornings at 9:30am in Alcova Heights Park—or at home, or in another lovely natural spot—for a casual time of family prayer and nature exploration. This fall, we’re enjoying art, music, and nature together, and we’re pondering Jesus’ maxims or "great truths." Here's this week's verse:

whenever you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you Matthew 6:2
  • What are “alms”?

  • Why not draw attention to our giving?

  • Did Jesus give us any examples of this in his life?

  • How did it go over with his listeners? How about for us today?

  • Can you think of anyone who helps others without receiving much credit? (Maybe write them a note of appreciation!)

  • What are some ways we can give, without blowing a trumpet about it?


Steal Away to Jesus


This week's maxim, along with the teaching we looked at several weeks ago about praying in secret might shed some light on "Steal Away to Jesus." At Wild Wonder that week, we named various ways and places we like to pray to God, and we remembered that Jesus often went off somewhere to pray.

Steal away, steal away,

Steal away to Jesus! Steal away, steal away home, I ain't got long to stay here.


My Lord, He calls me, He calls me by the thunder; The trumpet sounds within my soul, I ain't got long to stay here.


Steal away, steal away,

Steal away to Jesus! Steal away, steal away home, I ain't got long to stay here.


Green trees are bending, Poor sinners stand a-trembling; The trumpet sounds within my soul, I ain't got long to stay here.


Steal away, steal away,

Steal away to Jesus! Steal away, steal away home, I ain't got long to stay here.


My Lord, He calls me, He calls me by the lightning; The trumpet sounds within my soul, I ain't got long to stay here.

“The trumpet sounds within my soul!” What do you think that feels like? Have you ever felt that way?


Did you notice the reference’s to God’s power in creation? Thunder, lighting, wind…


When my kids asked what “steal away” means, I thought about quietly slipping away without being noticed. Do you have other interpretations? Then we talked about what it might mean to “steal away to Jesus” and I think it’s open to many different takes:

  • slipping away unnoticed;

  • dying;

  • longing for home and ultimate wholeness with Jesus (parousia).

  • One might steal away to one’s room,

  • or to silent prayer in the middle of chaotic surroundings.

In addition to rumors of coded Underground Railroad instructions (e.g. increased chance of escape during a thunderstorm!), this song also brings up stories about enslaved people, who were prohibited from gathering together, using it as a message: there’s church tonight.

Wonder All Week


If age appropriate, pray for Christians who have to meet in secret around the world. How grateful we are to worship in a country with freedom of religion, where even people who share the same faith can disagree (see Liz’s post about purple church!).


If you haven't done a deep dive yet, I'm still enjoying learning about the Fisk Jubilee Singers:

  • They put spirituals on the map—and saved their university—here's a quick primer:

  • But I don't want to forget that since then, the singing group has a long, proud history,

  • and Fisk University to this day boasts one of the premiere choral groups in the nation.

Here, the Fisk Jubilee Singers perform “Steal Away” in 2019:

And here's an educational performance that the Fisk Jubilee Singers gave at the Kennedy Center in 2010, in which we get to hear a wider repertoire. This is just under an hour, and it might make good background music for your weekend!


Even if your family hasn’t been much into listening to (much less discussing) our songs this fall, and even if there are other styles you and your kids connect to more readily—these spirituals hold a significant, honored position in American history, in Christianity, and in the history of music (as the progenitor of blues, Gospel, jazz, rock & roll music, R&B and so on)!


Along with responding to these songs' calls to worship, lament, and prayer, I think familiarizing ourselves with them and appreciating the gift of this musical heritage is important for all of us.


Here’s what I’m trying to say: just listen to them! Doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. Enjoy the gift!

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