A last minute addition to the Cross Rhythms Okehampton bill, SUE RINALDI has just released a breathtaking new album. Sue talked to Mike Rimmer about her music.
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Mike: Where do you think the British church stands now with
regard to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival?
Sue: "Having been renewed and refreshed, I think people are now asking the question 'So what do we do with all of this?' In the light of the past few years, emphasis is now on how we live, walking in purity, humility; standing up for justice, making a positive difference. A few good meetings won't necessarily change the world. It's how we live and what we do that will shake history. I obviously see a big place for prayer, but we have to get involved in our communities to see grassroots change. We have to work to get into influential positions so that we can effect education, politics, medical ethics, the media... What is revival anyway? We have tried to define it and in trying to bring definition, we have probably restricted its meaning. I find it helpful to think that revival is God breaking out all over the place."
Mike: What are you trying to contribute to this
Sue: "I am endeavouring to be obedient to God with regard to how I live, what I give my time to, my money to. I am constantly encouraging the emerging generation to be red hot and holy. But most of all I want to show people the real Jesus, so that they choose to follow him. I cannot do this alone, that is why I choose to be committed to a local church in order to outwork all of this on a community level as well as internationally."
Mike: "Lay Myself Down" is such a powerful song Tell me about
the writing of that song.
Sue: "I began writing it in a tiny Butlins chalet at Spring Harvest last year. I was being challenged" about my purity, about the pollution of sin in my life. I really want the qualities of purity and humility to be hallmarks of my character and it's a constant plea - a choice. I know my own wretchedness and yet God forgives and promises a new start. This mercy is staggering! I believe that in these days it will be purity and humility and not excess and power that will speak volumes."
Mike: The introduction to "Change This World" has you counting
off the song in French. Sue, why?
Sue: "It was a spontaneous thing... We had the world on our mind and it's the only other language I know how to count in."
Mike: It talks of making a difference, a theme that others are
exploring. Do you sense that these are significant times in British
Church history or is it always true that no matter what generation
you're in, there's a responsibility to try and make a
Sue: "I love watching the adverts on TV - they are often the 20th century prophets. Nike for example have just changed their slogan from 'Just do it' to 'I can!' They are picking up the change in temperature - that it is possible to make a difference. We may not be able to change everyone's world everywhere, but we ca change someone's world somewhere. I have just come back from Spring Harvest contributing to R:age, an environment for the emerging generation (17+). There is a new excitement, almost a war cry, and people are vowing to live their lives as radical disciples of Jesus in order to make a difference. There's a confidence in God mixed with a personal humility. There's a tenderness for people and a restlessness that will not let them sit back and opt out. Powerful stuff."
Mike: "Please" and "Restless Pilgrim" say a lot about you as a
person. Would you describe yourself as driven?
Sue: "I, along with thousands of other women, have been discriminated against because of my gender and I have been pitied as a single person, considered unfulfilled and half a person." "I feel I'm on a journey. I could easily stop off and say that is enough. I've had some thrills, I've had pain, now let me retreat to a comfort one. But I cannot do that because there is so much left undone. One thing the events of this year and the circumstances with my mother has imprinted upon me is the fact that we have to make each day count."
Mike: Moving from the album for a moment, you made a memorable
appearance at Champion of The World. Did you enjoy that
Sue: "It was all a bit of a blur. Having spent weeks preparing for it and months thinking about it, the actual day sped by. The rain put all our pre-event timetables out and especially the soundchecks were ruined by the constant downpour. I have vivid memories of having to cover every bit of equipment with heavy plastic. Not an easy task! The whole day made you realise that this is what stadiums are built for -music with a message, people of prayer, energising together so that we can be more effective for Jesus in our everyday living."
Mike: What about being on stage, how did that feel with such a
Sue: "To be honest with you, it felt like home. As a band we loved it and thought that we could do this every week. The huge crowd didn't feel so huge and you knew that they were there because of the ethos of the day and what it represented. It wasn't necessarily for the personalities on stage."
Mike: What do you believe is the long-term impact of the
Sue: "There many voices in our society - many speaking up for worthy causes. Champion Of The World was all about Jesus and at last the voice of the faithful is being heard. I hope this is just the beginning of many more events around the world. But we must remember that no matter how good the day is, the important thing is that we all go away from it more motivated than ever to live out the Gospel in our homes, at work, at college, at school, wherever our feet take us."
Mike: "Rich Girl" is an interesting song in that it talks
about "the woman in me". At the risk of making you blush, I have long
admired the work that you've done and what I can glean of you as a
person from your public work. The role of women, especially single
women, has at times been an area of controversy. How do you feel about
your own ministry and the things that God has called you to do as a
Sue: "The more I discover God, whom I relate to as mother and father, the more I discover myself. 'Rich Girl' is a very honest song, one that I've been writing for years! It questions the boxes that we use to define one another and the stereotyping that goes on. The gender boxes are particularly restrictive in that if we don't fit into the 'feminine Barbie' box or if we don't fit into the 'masculine action man' box, we are liable to feel misfits. We need to throw away these restrictions and allow people to be themselves. Who said that 'big boys don't cry' and 'a woman's place is in the home'? I, along with thousands of other women, have been discriminated against because of my gender and I have been pitied as a single person, considered unfulfilled and half a person. On both counts, society is changing and making significant steps away from marginalising certain people groups - but it still happens and the road has been tough. But I'm doing what I'm doing because God has called me to walk this path. Many male references are made concerning God, assuming God to be a man. I am not surprised therefore that some women cannot accept that a male God can understand their 'womanness' and have turned away from the Christian faith and sought spiritual solace elsewhere. This song is an attempt to say that God is beyond gender, forgive us our male dominated language, and that God understands the woman in you."
Mike: Do you think you have a part to play as a role model to
single women to push back the boundaries and go after God and
Sue: "I hope so. I get many comments along the way from other single women that my life has been an encouragement to them to 'go for it'. We all need role models. I have my role models. We are coming out of a male dominated world and please hear me, I am not advocating a female dominated one. I object to 'girl power' because I don't like the word power. I'm a lover of equality and to be truly prophetic, I think we should aim to model women and men working together in equality and justice - not operating in a particular role because of gender but because we exhibit the abilities, skill and potential needed for that role."
Mike: As you are progressing and God is taking you forwards
what are you discovering about yourself?
Sue: "I have been deeply challenged to be real. Sounds so simple but it is one of the most difficult lessons of all time. We can all wear masks - the challenge is to be yourself and respect others enough to allow them to be themselves. I find in God a beautiful and powerful honesty. I would love others to see that in me."
Mike: Finally, the Mike Rimmer cheeky question: On the album
sleeve you describe "Once I See" by writing, "It took me a long time
to decide to trust someone with my life, but when I did...wow!" So
does that mean this song is about breaking into a new place in God or
have you fallen in love?
Mike: "Yes?" Whaddya mean "Yes?"
Sue: "It's all about the dynamic I felt when I first encountered God. It's all about the 'wow factor' relating to the love of God. So no, I haven't fallen 'in love' with a human."
Mike Rimmer would love to hold a dinner party with his wife Pip and guests Sue Rinaldi, Larry Norman, Kevin Prosch and Helen Baylor so long as he could record the conversation!The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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