Invitees

by Terry Stokes

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about

There is a Host who beckons us into wholeness and flourishing. We are all invitees.

credits

released February 25, 2017

All songs written by TJ Stokes
Vocals, guitars, bass, drums, & keys by TJ Stokes
Mixed by John Athayde
Recorded at Trinity Pres., Charlottesville, VA

With support from Isaac Wardell of Bifrost Arts
Photography by Lauren Marks

Additional musicians:

Tyler Hutcherson: Keys on "Numb" and "Parasite"
Cecilia Glenn: Vox on "Now on the Throne", "Make Room", and "Steeper"
Abbey Ness: Vox on "Edges" and "Parasite"
DJ Carter: Vox on "Numb"
Aaron McGinnis: Vox on "Dignity"
Micah Iverson: Vox on "I'll Dance" and "Poor God"
Sarah Miller: Vox on "Parasite"
Gang vox on "Now on the Throne": Micah Iverson and Raleigh Sims

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Terry Stokes Charlottesville, Virginia

Songwriter & Producer

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Track Name: Hospitality
I’ve been sent out far and wide
To find the guest of honor- won’t you come inside?
Before now we saw each other through fear
But you can set your anchor down here

It’s a full house, and you make it a home
There’s no place where you’re more fully known
What’s prepared will restore you, we want you to thrive
His desire to include us is what makes us alive

You desire to host me, You summon me so perfectly
Now I wanna gather the world to Your hospitality
It’s an invitation to live inside Your peace
The banquet table’s ready so let’s begin the feast

We’re homeless existentially
we’re roaming without identity
We’re pluralistic and post-truth,
but still looking for a Love that’s absolute

Sit down, I’ll fix you a plate,
then we’ll talk about how to navigate
A new paradigm where you’ll find the best
where through you I’m blessed, there’s no debate

We live as a lighthouse, I’m a beacon
I don’t know your pain but I get what you’re seeking
I’ll guide you safely in from the waves
I’ve been on the lookout since the break of day

Cause I want you to know who wants you the most-
here He comes, let’s raise a toast
Even more than sinners in need of a Savior
we’re invitees in need of a host
Track Name: Make Room
At our best it’s what makes us fully human
At our worst it’s what makes us fully corrupt
Let it be, let us make; an exercise in glory
It’s a gift worth asking for, so let true power erupt

Make room for me to flourish and multiply
What I make of this life
That’s why I am alive

Let love establish power in dominion
Healing every nation
We’re all daughters and sons

Make room for my agency
Stop playing god in my home
Reverse the curse of futility
Our work is bringing shalom

So check your privilege at the door
True power makes room for more
It laughs at violence and death
With every resurrected breath
Track Name: Bread & Wine
Bread and wine
Natural and divine
I’ve tasted and I’ve seen
My hunger is redeemed

I take sustenance, it becomes my flesh
The world is my banquet, every part is blessed
I give the world back through our communion
I lost it in the garden, but the cross provides reunion

I tried to close the circuit, to become my own end
Traded dominion for enslavement and returned to dust again
But in the dry earth, a root promised redemption
New water for my thirst, new food for my salvation

All that I see exists to make You known to me
I habitate in You, we live in community
From the garden to the city, the progression of Your will
Illuminated by Your glory, the end is better still

As often as I break bread, I’ll remember Your love
And when You sweetly break me
I’ll remember You’re enough

Commissioned with Your narrative
where my testimony’s found
We act it out in worship- can you hear the sound?
Track Name: Edges (feat. Abbey Ness)
Shameful, unsightly
unlovable I might be
Aching, pining
Tears like a river, can’t find the silver lining

Ruthless, relentless, truth-kissed Your love is
You see me, You want me
Immeasurably pleasurable You find me

I’m on the outside looking in
I knock on the door, won’t You let me in?
That’s what it is to be human

I can’t name what my heart needs
All I know is that I’m lonely
I feel the sharp edges of Your mercy

Hunger for wholeness
Knot in my stomach, torn by the thorn in my flesh
At war with myself
Keeping at arms’ length the ones who have offered me help

Resigned to frustration
Disordered desires, destructive inclinations
Refine me, align me
You’re my guarantee, I need You to remind me

My heart is still a mess, feels like my wound is fresh
But my pain is faithfulness
Your love rips me apart
I am Your work of art
Track Name: Vulnerable
Call it reticence or reserve, call it fear
I’d rather you see me there than know me here

I withhold information, I want your vaguest prayers
Can’t have my dirty laundry blowing around in the air
A figurehead for the public, I’m not your ride or die
So I don’t know why you’re still here
Loving me out of my lies

Make a crack, make a dent
Promise you won’t relent
It hurts to hear it out loud-
I confess; I need you now

You’ve proven to be worthy
Of meeting me in my need
I am vulnerable
You are available

I appreciate when you go out of your way
To call me out, to lift me up, to make sure I’m ok

You got my walls under siege
But you’re my closest ally
From my pride a reprieve
and you’re my cover while I
escape the illusion of my own control
I’m exposed to the risk now and that makes me whole
Track Name: Dignity (feat. Aaron McGinnis)
You ruin lives for a moment of indulgence
Downcast my eyes, there is no refuge for me
Impunity- no need to justify your terror
Soon I’ll be fully resigned to the pain

I live outside of any semblance of justice
They’re satisfied to overlook my greatest need
I never feel safe, and nothing else really matters
My body aches from the persistent abuse

Oh, who will rescue me?
Oh, who sees my dignity?
Where is your humanity?
You will receive your due and I will be made free

It’s not the toil, it’s not even the hunger
No, my blood boils because it’s likely to be spilled
You’ll be brought lower than you could ever humiliate me
You’ll reap what you sow, yes the promise will be fulfilled

Now that you see, I believe that you will meet my need
Put fear in the hearts of those who prey on me
Walk with me now on this journey to heal my soul
Be my protector- let justice like a mighty torrent roll
Track Name: Numb (feat. DJ Carter)
I am so numb
I fight but change doesn’t come
You hold my eyelids open
But where is your compassion?

My heart sinks down in my chest
Injustice precludes my rest
My body’s worthless to you
Vengeance is long overdue*

Damned if I resist
Damned if I comply
If you don’t care how I exist
How in hell can you threaten my life?

My emotions are raw
Sensibility frayed
Can’t appeal to the law
The system is built on their hate

I refuse to be comforted
When I meditate my spirit faints
Y’all can miss me with the platitudes
I expected more from the saints

I won’t just mourn for a day
Then go back to my routine
Alton’s son is still fatherless
His family’s grief is still keen

*"The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people. The tension is at bottom between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And if there is a victory it will be a victory not merely for fifty thousand Negroes, but a victory for justice and the forces of light. We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may happen to be unjust." -MLK Jr., "Nonviolence and Racial Justice", 1957
Track Name: Poor God
The image of God in my tired face
I feel cut off when you avert your gaze
In me you’re faced with your own brokenness
Mine’s financial; yours, emotional
We’re unable to cope with this

You think of me in terms of what I lack
At best another burden to put on your back
Would you believe that I can refine your theology?
Poverty is a mystery of divine ontology

I identify with Christ; He is poor like me
God’s fullness revealed through His poverty
I’m at home when I worship an outcast King

Yes, I’m poor- you see me through absence
But I’m more- in me you’ll find God’s presence
Brokenness in my Jesus consoles me
And I cry- my poor God is holy

First years of life- a political refugee
Last hours of life- sweating blood in Gethsemane
Itinerant, homeless, forsaken, and betrayed
Surely that’s a poor God, that’s the God I celebrate

He delivers me
And that’s your ministry
The work is in the streets
Will you wash my feet?
Track Name: Steeper
The climb just got a lot steeper
Our wounds got much deeper
My eyes are going to stay wide open
It’s dark but I’m still hoping

I’m trying to find words for you
What is there left to say?
The hate is right in my face
You can afford to look away

I know that you feel lost
Cut out of the conversation
But now you’ve kicked the door down
And put yourself above the nation

Everything we fight against
Now has the keys and the codes
But we’ve been making big strides
No detour, I’m focused on the road

I’m a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper*
And my empathy won’t be curbed
I’ll disturb the comfortable
And comfort the disturbed

I want to sit down with you and reimagine what we could be
The visions that we had have failed, so will you labor with me?
This is not a zero-sum game; when I flourish you can flourish too
We’ll restore power to the downtrodden
All the marginalized, yes, including you


*"So long as the Negro maintained this subservient attitude and accepted the 'place' assigned him, a sort of racial peace existed. But it was an uneasy peace in which the Negro was forced patiently to submit to insult, injustice, and exploitation. It was a negative peace. True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force- tension, confusion or war; it is the presence of some positive force- justice, good will, and brotherhood." -MLK Jr., "Nonviolence and Racial Justice", 1957
Track Name: Now on the Throne (feat. Cecilia Glenn)
You placed me in the world to reign on Your behalf
To bear Your image forth, Your scepter and Your staff
You invited me into Your life of teeming harmony
You gave me my better half, I found community

You called it very good; I could feel it wasn’t quite complete
Not yet glorified; I hungered for it like food to eat
So I turned my back on the light, made the shadow my delight
It promised power and life but delivered me to the night

Now on the throne is the One who did
All of the things I failed to do on my own
He’s glorified; everything under His feet
Now I draw near to the place where heaven and earth meet

I was Your beloved son, I was an equal heir
Glory would soon be mine, it was a time to prepare
But the sun was dark in my eyes,
You were as good as dead to me
I took my share of Your reward, walked away from this family

I saw my wait as arbitrary, thought You unaware of my desire
I decided I knew what was best,
I broke Your heart and drew Your ire
But a Brother You gave to me
who gave His life to bring me home
He gave me His signet ring and welcomed me into Shalom

You made me a king again (Your mandate is my reign)
You made me a priest again (all praise to you I bring)
You made me alive again (set free from death’s domain)
Now there’s work to begin (go forth and break those chains)
Track Name: Parasite
You claim to explain the meaning of my life
You offer great things for a reasonable price
You appeal to truth to whitewash your lies-
‘Surely I’ll be like God, and I surely will not die’

You’ve got nothing to give
You just hijack what’s beautiful
Parasite, hopeless on your own
Grace is ever more powerful

You increase your demands
And deliver less and less
Siphon my agency
As it becomes harder to divest

Still I see glimpses of unadulterated light
Footprints of the Host that will cast off the parasite
Track Name: I'll Dance (feat. Micah Iverson)
In my body I’m situated
By the Spirit I’m animated
Seeing glory radiated
I move and You move me, I’m fascinated

And I’ll dance

I’m low before You, my knees are calloused
My food’s Your body, Your blood my chalice
The three-in-one dance, one but not the same
I join the rhythm, live into my name

The Father and the Groom dance with the bride
Your life is here, You welcome us inside
We open up the floor to revelry
Your smile lights up the world, it’s heavenly