Another type of witness...

Today the Jazz Ambassadors played three jazz shows for over 500 hundred children in two of our poorer neighborhoods - and a bunch of adults, too.  It was another type of witness to both the importance of truth, goodness and beauty and the love of God outside the confines of "churchianity." Too many church folk think their pastor should stay in the office - or else confine him/herself to pastoral visits and calls in the nursing homes.  Now I actually love visiting the folk of the congregation in their homes, etc but I have also come to see how important it is to be OUT in the wider community.  A few thoughts are worth sharing:

+ First, the music was so beautiful and fun it was contagious.  Twenty-first century children - especially those without significant resources - NEVER see/hear live music. From the time I was little, I regularly heard live music: the Boston Pops on the Commons, local musical theatre, folk bands and choirs in church; but this rarely happens today.  Therefore, to share the experience of a live band that loves playing music together is a real incarnational gift that embodies how very different people can come together and create beauty and joy through music.

+ Second, Andy was brilliant in weaving together a 45 minute history of American jazz and was entertaining as well as intellectually satisfying.  So many of our children are the product of "cultural amnesia" - they don't know their own roots - and may never hear the story of jazz.  What's more, today was a wonderful combination of head and heart and body as we had the kids dancing and asking questions, singing and listening and rejoicing.

+ And third, as we prepare for Istanbul, today gave the band another chance to play in a way that was simply ALL about the music. Dianne was on FIRE - engaging with the children, helping them beat the cowbell or clap as she danced and sang up a storm - which helped all of us celebrate her sometimes shy gifts in bold new ways!  Andy was in his prime as both stellar musician and jazz educator and Charlie, Bennie and Johnny offered their insights and gifts in ways that took the music up a notch, too.
One of the reasons I gave thanks to God when I was asked to play in this ensemble was that it gave me a way to be out in the wider Pittsfield community in a NON church role.  Not only did I need to be doing something for the community that wasn't just about building up the church, but I think contemporary people need to see Christians having fun and caring for others without any immediate pay-off.  For good reasons, the Church is often held in suspicion because we are often manipulative and even greedy.  Meeting people as an equal on their turf has been very, very important for my soul and continued ministry.

Today there was no other agenda except music and sharing joy in the beauty and I think that was contagious. It not only fed my soul, it gave 500+ children a chance to see that joy and adulthood can inhabit the same space in time.  What's more, it deepens my sense of incarnational living in the Spirit: Like Fr. Richard Rohr once said, "It took me a long time realize this but my LIFE is where I am supposed to find God each day." Today my life put me in touch with my band mates and a TON of Pittsfield children and a whole bunch of truth, goodness and beauty. Jesus was clearly in the house... and it was a blessing.


Black Pete said…
Yes, like Patty Ingle said,
A Gift of Song is a gift of love...

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