intro to jazz

i am so thankful for the congregation at spotsylvania presbyterian church. every once in a while they let me –  the resident young guy on staff – wear my fancy sneakers and preach. that says two things to me:

one) “we are investing in you” – we like to give our money, our attention, our focus to the guys who are already established, the churches that have 2000 people at them, the organizations we know have a track record for success. it is rare for a group of people to say, “hey, we’re okay if you screw up” or “take this time to grow.” our human nature is to want things prepackaged for us, nice, neat, fluid. what our hearts want is a place where we don’t have to give effort. spc giving me an opportunity to preach consistently says that they are interested in my long-term career in ministry.

two) “you are a part of this body” – a little over fifteen months ago, i had no idea who you people were. i knew you to be a church where my best friend grew up and where a tall guy was a youth director at. since then, we have gotten to know each other a little bit. you’ve had me over for dinner. we’ve had good conversations. we’ve prayed and laughed together. thanks for pulling me in and making a single guy from PA a part of this church family.

getting back on track – yesterday i preached about how we are called to advent: how while there are good things in the Bible that we are called to do and commandments that we are called to keep, the Bible is kinda freeing on how we apply the gospel to our lives.

i likened it to jazz music. whether you like jazz music or not, hit play on the video and listen to some as i explain a little more

in jazz music, there is more improvisation and applying techniques than notes on a sheet of music. jazz music can tend to sound a little chaotic, but the basic idea in jazz is key and rhythm.

when musicians know the right key and as they pick up the rhythm, jazz music happens. improvisation is key. using skills, talents, and techniques, the jazz musician plays to his/her ability and in their surrounding with the accompaniment of other musicians to create jazz music. they come together to have jam sessions and play together for the enjoyment of jazz.

so too is the christian life.

you – christian –  are a jazz musician.

you have been brought in and given a key and a rhythm on how to live your life.

your key: “do all to the glory of God” (first corinthians 10:31, colossians 3:17)

your rhythm is: “love God, love neighbor” (matthew 22:36-40, mark 12:30-31, luke 10:27)

as you start to live – like any new musician – you’re going to stumble. your going to play some wrong notes. your rhythm will be off. but as you start to look at other christians your in community with, you’ll start to see the rhythm played out in life. you’ll start to hear how the key sounds. you’ll start putting yourself under the teaching of the Word to grow as a christian. you’ll start to develop techniques (turning the other cheek, tithing, service/missions, worship, telling others about Jesus).

but all of it is freeing.

this is the christian life. you are called to apply the gospel – our salvation and restoration to God through Jesus Christ in the cross and resurrection – to your daily life/schedule/routine/etc. you apply it in every situation with the goal to love God and love your neighbor. it can look different for everyone and but it has the same underlying features:

 love God and love neighbor and do it all to the glory of God. 

it differs between professions because of people’s skills and passions. it looks different between family members because of gifts and abilities. it will differ in generations, races, genders, and location. and hey, are you start to grow, you’ll see some more nuances and guidelines to help live our your faith (read your BIBLE!) but how you and i live the christian life comes down to these two factors:

love God and love neighbor and do it all to the glory of God.

enjoy the music.