I listen to Jazz when I’m needing to concentrate, study, or write. The melodies and improvisations help me be creative and focus in on my task. Cannonball Addlerly, Jimmy Smith, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, are some favorites but these are just the ones that come to mind as I write. Each artist is a great player in their own right, but more so they are also great listeners. Jazz is as much about making space, listening and building on what is being created as it is about expressing yourself. I feel like our church is in a Jazz kinda place as we being Lent.
After two visioning sessions, the visioning team has determined the following values at the core of who Coldwater UMC is. We are a congregation that values:
1. Fun, 2. Servant Leadership, 3. Being Welcoming, 4. Love, and 5. Spirituality
Do you think this describes us? Our discussion to arrive at this list was a fruitful one. As I sat and listened, each voice concentrated in on who we were and who we wished to be. During the hours spent around the table there was laughter, consideration of our current and future mission. There was times of debate and a lasting respect. There was genuine affection and the Spirit was moving among us. It was like jazz. As each person spoke around the table they were adding and building on each other. One person would bring forth a phrase or theme and another would echo the line, adding a little bit more to it. Each voice, each story, added to our time together there was an energy as we met that brought forth the five values listed above.
Our visioning process connects in well with Lent, for both seek to boil us down to the essentials of who we are. Like jazz solos that echos the same riff, lent asks us to refocus on our mortality, our identity, our calling, our relationship with Christ. Lent asks us to reconsider our priorities and live in closer accordance to God.
Throughout these forty days I encourage you to take on a spiritual practice or restrain yourself from that which is getting in the way between you and God. Reconnect, ground yourself, stop and consider how you are using your life. What needs to change? How can you take on a greater integrity and connection in your walk in faith? Lent reminds us we are mortal, and that each day is an opportunity to live into what matters most. It’s an opportunity to let your life speak by echoing God’s voice through you. Kinda like… Jazz.