The poem, “And Still I Rise,” is the masterpiece of the Author, Poet, Historian, Songwriter, Playwright, Dancer, Producer, Director, Performer, Singer, Civil Rights Activist and Professor, Maya Angelou.
The theme of the poem is a hopeful focus on a determination to rise above difficulty, discouragement and destruction.
Published in 1978, the words to “And Still I Rise” serve as an anthem to many. It gives inspiration when times are hard, hope when there is no hope, and shines light where there is nothing but darkness all around. Listen to the opening lines of this poem:
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
With the senseless burning of Black Churches in the United States and the devastating fire at Notre Dame in France, we are all reminded of the emotional toll evident when our houses of worship are destroyed.
However, as my seminary colleague, Lucas Jones writes, “Yes, this was a beautiful building. Yes, it had religious significance to many. Yes, it was offered, built, dedicated, and consecrated as a gift to the Glory of God. And yes, we need buildings to offer sanctuary, rest, and opportunities to gather as communities, and to offer hospitality to the world. But it is just a building.”
As we finish this Holy Week, let us remember that Jesus died on the cross so that God’s temple of creation (humans) can rise. The Lord sees each of us as more than a building. The Lord sees each of us as more than a social security number. The Lord sees each of us as more than someone who lives and dies. The Lord sees each of us as a temple – a temple that must rise! "For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son...." (John 3:16). Jesus died on the cross so that we could have everlasting life, so that our temple may rise.
At the close of the poem, “And Still I Rise,” Maya Angelou repeats the simple phase, I rise, I rise, I rise. With our hope built on nothing less than the love and righteousness of Jesus, let us cling closely to Him. Let us learn His ways, follow His teachings, and bask in His Love. So, when the trumpet sounds – on that day, we can all say to death, ”And still I rise!”
Marben Bland is the pastor of the New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in East Dublin, Georgia. Go to www.marbenbland.com for more of Marben’s writings, sermons and podcasts.