I am a music lover, I listen to it, down load it, and even sometimes attempt to play it. But I am not an expert like some, who know everything about classical music and nothing about the Beatles or everything about jazz and nothing about Angus and Julia Stone. Rather I see myself as a generalist. I love all sorts of music, modern music that is played on the radio, some classical, opera, jazz, country and folk and even the occasional rap song.
There is music that reminds us of home, music that reminds us of our youth, and music that that makes us soar and think that anything is possible. There is also music that reminds us of our responsibilities to others, that protests at the injustices in our society, and calls us to stand up and be counted.
In this small space I confess to being a John Denver lover, and can sing his songs from memory and with gusto. Many already know this from the church camp, where his songs were a prominent part of the proceedings.
I was listening to one of my favourites the other day, Calypso, which was written in 1975 by Denver as a tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his research ship, the Calypso. Funny, I know it so well, and then I realized I didn’t, because suddenly the opening words spoke to me in a way they had not done before….
“To sail on a dream on a crystal clear ocean, to ride on the crest of the wild raging storm. To work in the service of life and the living, in search of the answers to questions unknown. To be part of the movement and part of the growing, part of beginning to understand……”
Suddenly it was as if the God found in the depths of my heart, the God revealed in Jesus, was speaking to me. “To work in the service of life and the living, in search of the answers to questions unknown” echoed all around me and gradually settled, finding meaning when before they were just words.
Isn’t this what we are called to do as followers of Jesus, isn’t this what we are called to do as a community of faith? “To be part of the movement and part of the growing..”
It was like I was encountering the song all over again, but with a message just for me.
While we come to worship on a Sunday morning, and value it, there are many who would say it is a waste of time and energy, far better to be having a coffee with the family or a well-deserved sleep in. And it’s not that I don’t find those answers valid. It’s just that there is something else..
I believe that when we meet, when we sing, when we share our concerns, when we explore the scriptures, both modern and sacred, we open a space where we can encounter God’s call, sense God’s presence, feels God’s love. This encounter renews and refreshes us, as though we have been spoken to personally, and points out the road we must follow. Much like my John Denver song, a song that I thought I knew well, but suddenly in a rare moment gave me something surprising and inspiring.
Rex Hunt has said of worship….
“It is about the celebration of life, the whole of life. It’s a human activity, celebrated in the presentness of God”.
Occasionally that God presence will touch us in surprising ways. But we have to be listening.