• St. Luke's ELCA

Daily Inspiration - August 20: River

Leon Bridges modern take on soul music made me a fan instantly. He released his first album, Coming Home, in 2015 and I was especially drawn to the last track on the album, "River".  He says in an interview that the song is about his relationship with God, spiritual journey, and struggle with depression. I first heard this song simply as a that - how God loving accepts us sinners, and Leon (and/or the listener) coming to terms with that and praying for forgiveness. However watching the music video, it seems the meaning behind these words may have evolved a bit. The video was filmed in Baltimore in 2015 during the protest over the murder of Freddy Gray. Those protest seems forever ago, and yet they are still going on... just with different names – George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery

In gospel music, a river has historically been used in as symbolism for change and redemption. For me this song has become about not just one about personal redemption, but for our country and world as well.  When Leon sing "my heart's been far from you", I think of all the ways I have failed to be a better advocate for my neighbor. This song challenges me to love my neighbor radically as Jesus does.  Lord - help us to truly love our neighbor and to turn our hearts fully to you.

Doug Cassel

River by Leon Bridges


Been traveling these wide roads for so long

My heart's been far from you

Ten-thousand miles gone

Oh, I wanna come near and give ya

Every part of me

But there's blood on my hands

And my lips aren't clean

In my darkness I remember

Momma's words reoccur to me

"Surrender to the good Lord

And he'll wipe your slate clean"

Take me to your river

I wanna go

Oh, go on

Take me to your river

I wanna know

Tip me in your smooth waters

I go in

As a man with many crimes

Come up for air

As my sins flow down the Jordan

Oh, I wanna come near and give ya

Every part of me

But there's blood on my hands

And my lips aren't clean

Take me to your river

I wanna go

Go on,

Take me to your river

I wanna…

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Middleton, WI 53562

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