Lenten ramblings early on...

Last night our little jazz band SMOKED the place - so much fun, groove and soulful music all at one time - and the effect was contagious to both band and audience alike.  WE went deeper into the groove as individual band mates took risks and pushed their own limits.  THEY got caught up in all the fun and beauty.  And TOGETHER we found ourselves heading to a new place that was soul satisfying whether it was the impromptu "Superstition" that seemed to swell up from out of nowhere, the bluesy harmonica-driven intro to "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" or the funky but sweet vocals and improvisations that were born in "Sentimental Mood."  What's more, we have five - that's right, count em 5 - guests sit in with us taking us to new places, too.

So this morning, as part of today's Sabbath prayer, I spent some time with these reflections by Fr. Richard Rohr who put last night into a deeper context:

In Isaiah 58:1-9a, Isaiah explicitly says that God prefers a kind of fasting which changes our actual lifestyle and not just punishes our body. (The poor body is always the available scapegoat to avoid touching our purse, our calendar, or our prejudices.) Isaiah makes a very upfront demand for social justice, non-aggression, taking our feet off the necks of the oppressed, sharing our bread with the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, letting go of our sense of entitlement, and not speaking maliciously. He says very clearly this is the real fast God wants!

In Matthew 9:14-15, Jesus is asked why he and his disciples do not fast. In effect, he says “because it is the wrong kind of fasting!” Then he introduces a favorite theme and metaphor that he gradually develops: life as a wedding banquet, with himself as the bridegroom and humanity as the bride. It will soon become clear that Jesus is not interested in an elite who do their rituals properly yet refuse to join in the wedding feast that God is preparing for all, both insiders and outsiders.

Making beautiful and soulful music is a sacramental act - whether it takes place in worship or a bar - and when things come together - dare I say when we are open to the Spirit - we are all touched and changed.  As Rohr says, we are led away from a body-hating religion to a way of living more like Christ's wedding banquet for THAT is the fast Jesus came to celebrate.  But living into the feast takes practice - our fears and addictions run deep - and often keep us trapped in our brokenness.  And isolated.  And confused.

So my commitment to bringing beautiful and loving music into people's lives grows as it is one of God's healing antidotes that can open the heart and nourish it.  And my affection and respect for my band mates grows, too as we help and encourage one another in this odd but sacramental ministry of sharing the feast in the most unlikely places.


Black Pete said…
Yes. I would only add that Judaism has learned that lesson, too.
RJ said…
Indeed, my man.

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