Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
So, what do you get if you play country and western music backwards? He gets his dog back, he gets his truck back, he gets his girl back. Okay, not really so funny but the point to be made is pretty simple… music as a medium often tells a story. Country western music being a prime example.
Earl Simmons died this past week. He is better known as DMX, a very popular rapper whose heart gave out at age 50. Given his lifestyle it was probably not entirely unexpected. Most old white people (like me) have never connected with rap music. Especially with the ilk of DMX since we would find the language and imagery an aﬀront to our sensibilities. The music often feels angry with a lot of “F” words and “N” words that as children we would have had our mouths washed out with soap for (didn’t like it). Yet like country music, notwithstanding challenging language, rap tells a story that often connects with the young, people of color, those who feel oppressed or disadvantaged.
Rap’s appeal is generally not for old white people unless you are a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda. His brilliant creation of Hamilton popularized rap for a generation of people who fell in love with the storytelling quality of this previously marginalized musical genre. Who’da thunk it? Watching people my age lip sync to Hamilton is pretty fun (a bit funny as well). It’s always about the story though, isn’t it? Thinking back into the ’70s many of us remember how absolutely revolutionary was Jesus Christ Superstar, evoking both cheers and jeers.
Have you ever visited the Sistine Chapel? During the illiterate Middle Ages, it was art in soaring spaces that conveyed the stories of faith. From Michelangelo to DMX, it is curious how in every age mediums adapt to tell the story of faith. Maybe you remember Marshall McLuhan’s infamous line, “The medium is the message.” Never truer than in the case of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the medium. Not the Jesus of political systems, nor the Jesus of capitalism or of any other economic philosophy, but the Jesus of Good News. Jesus is God’s medium of grace.
“He has chosen me and sent me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to announce release to the captives and freedom to the imprisoned.” Isa. 61:1
In this very uncertain age, the one thing we can say with any certainty is that the church is changing. Not just because of the pandemic. Even before Covid, church doors were closing at an all-time pace. Those who would claim a denomination or a particular church as their personal place of worship has, in our country, dropped 20% over the last 25 years. A dramatic change to say the least. Where is it all heading?
Back to Jesus.
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:10-11
Ours is a story where the end is already written. Between now and the Kingdom that comes, the medium might present as frescos on a ceiling, country music, or rap. But as people of faith, we live remembering that the Church is the bride of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit which means the story of God’s love for creation cannot die. It will just undoubtedly play to a diﬀerent beat. In the meantime, stay grateful, and maybe open up to a little rap. Okay, you can skip the rap and I will take a pass on the guy who lost his truck, dog and girl (hmmm, come to think of it, just a fellow loser who could use some Good News).
Peace and love,