I was having coffee at Starbuck’s with a friend and fellow musician today when the conversation turned to one of his favorite jazz recordings: Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea doing a lot of improvisation- free flowing spontaneity within a very loosely sketched, skeletal arrangement.
I told him that spontaneous flowing musically and spiritually is a metaphor to me of how our relationship with God should be. We flow with what we hear from the Lord, willing to lay down our preconceptions of how life is supposed to play out. It involves receiving the gift of faith and the grace to trust that God is faithful and really is working… “all things work out for the good of those who love Him, who are the called according to His purposes.” I call it the “victory of vulnerability”, when we step out of the boat on a Word from God.
Jesus said “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” As Paul the Apostle wrote “Now the just shall live by faith.”
It takes a degree of trust to launch out with other musicians into the unknown waters of spontaneous composition. Our tendency, especially as Greek-mindset influenced westerners who rely on empiricism- that is, on what we perceive by our natural senses- is to lean too heavily on the sheet music. It seems safer that way, we like structure.
But does our structure make room for God? He dwells not in temples (structures) made with human hands. He came in the unlikely womb of a young virgin… to the natural minded a woman of reproach. A King? Yes, but born in a stall surrounded by smelly animals and lower class shepherds. The Word was made flesh… the Eternal/Invisible clothed, indeed bound Himself with Time and the Physical so that we who were blind could finally, by faith, see the Father.
The church is a wineskin for the Kingdom of God, not an inflexible piece of pottery that crumbles under the intoxicating pressure of the flowing wine of God’s grace and Presence. I am not advocating that we have no structure, no wineskin, only that the new wine of the Kingdom of God is poured into the accommodating wineskin that the church is meant to be.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” And as the Message translation of Psalms 40:3 goes on to say:
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.
Godrest and Godspeed
P.S. My book “The Jazz Preacher” has more on this topic. You can order your copy at www.davidbaroni.com