30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
– John 6:30-35, NRSV
If anyone could compel Americans to stay home and social distance this holiday weekend, it would be Alexander Hamilton. See, if you’re like me, this holiday weekend you traded backyard barbecues and fireworks displays for the Disney+ streaming release of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking Broadway musical Hamilton.
As the name suggests, Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, the “ten-dollar founding father” who authored the majority of the Federalist Papers, established the fledgling nation’s first national bank, and served as the first US Secretary of the Treasury. It may not seem like the most traditional or compelling storyline for a hit Broadway musical… but then, Hamilton is no ordinary musical. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda reimagines the story of America’s founding… reimagines it musically, artistically, culturally, and racially. His diverse cast of characters tell their story through a diverse range of musical styles, including R&B, hip hop, and rap.
On the stage and in the history books, Alexander Hamilton is a complex, flawed figure… and because of that, his story is one of brokenness, power, confession, forgiveness, and redemption. It is also one of faith. While on his deathbed (he was fatally wounded in a duel against Vice President Aaron Burr), he is said to have exclaimed, “I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Essentially? I am completely dependent on the mercy of Christ.
Dependence. Reliance. These are difficult things for proud human beings to learn. God’s people have struggled with this for ages… literally, for ages. In providing God’s people with manna in the wilderness, God was not simply meeting their physical needs. God was also teaching them to rely on God. (It was a lesson that took decades.) In proclaiming “I am the Bread of Life,” Jesus continued that lesson of reliance. (To be fair… it’s a lesson that usually takes us decades, too.)
May you, with Alexander Hamilton and people of faith throughout the ages, grasp your dependence on God. May you embrace that reliance. May you come to proclaim: I am completely dependent on the mercy of Christ.May you come to terms with just how utterly dependent you are (even if it takes you decades).
In the meantime.. may I suggest you take in a show?
Stream a little Hamilton.
I assure you, it’ll be worth it.