Pretty bad picture I know. But it's the best I could do with my cell phone. It's a picture down in the community room at Broadway United Methodist Church last night. While the picture may be fuzzy -- the feeling as folks gathered last night was anything but!
It was a fundraiser for the SECO radio station at Broadway (91.9 on your FM dial). The radio station only broadcasts for a few blocks around Broadway (can't afford that FCC licence). McKeith Pearson and Jordan Mather-Licht are the two main young people involved in this. Both are 7th graders at Shortridge Middle School. Their adult sponsor is Kwanzaa Popps who plays drums and sings with the Indiana Reggae Band.
This particular fundraiser was billed as a tribute to Bob Marley. I laughed out loud when I thought of that -- for many reasons. It's not many churches that host a tribute concert to Bob Marley, for one thing. Back in the early 1980's I read a book by Timothy White about Bob Marley. I was impressed with Marley's commitment, real commitment, to peace. In Jamaica the two main political parties were literally killing each other in the streets. Marley brought them together in a concert billed as "One Love" (a title of one of his most well known songs). He made the politicians shake hands and entreat their followers to stop the violence and come together as one nation. I tried to imagine an entertainer in this country showing that kind of leadership and courage (we could really use it these days, it seems to me).
One of the other things that tickled me is that I knew that today (Saturday) there is going to be a concert put on by the American Guild of Organists at Broadway. I thought of these two events happening less than 24 hours apart -- and thought...hmmmm...the way to complete this circle is to have a country western concert on Sunday afternoon! I loved it. I'll have attended both of these concerts and I'll have a little bit more joy in my life because of it.
As I was talking last night with Carol Neu-Frauman and Dave Frauman I said - "now this is a Lenten discipline I really enjoy -- one that adds joy to my life." Lent is seen as such a penitential season that I think we forget the things that happened along the road to Jerusalem. Things like the feeding of the five thousand and lots of healings and lots of eating with tax collectors and sinners. If we are going to be facing days like Good Friday -- crucifixions, challenges to our faith, feelings of oppression and injustice, grief, etc... -- attending a concert with old friends and making new friends as one feels the music sweep over you -- can give you courage for the days and the Holy Weeks ahead. Or so it seems to me.
There are plenty of days that are tough...that's why the times to dance and rejoice in the company of others is so important. One of the things that was so interesting about last night -- is that this was a very, very diverse group -- folks who would not have ever found themselves together, before, I'll bet.
There were lots of children running around and dancing in the delight of the music. There were old folks and young folks. There were folks from Carmel and folks from the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood around Broadway. There were more dreadlocks in the Community Room than at all other times combined, I'll bet and there were bald heads like my own (and a few others). There were people from the Broadway congregation -- and people who had never set foot in the church building ever before. The room was full of smiling joy - filled people. Folks who were getting to know one another. There were folks recovering from recent divorce, other folks going through the pain of the death of a loved one, others who feel mistreated by their parents, others who feel tension in their most intimate relationships, others who are struggling with desires unfulfilled. But last night -- the reverberations from the speakers did more than shake our bodies -- it caused us to vibrate like tuning forks that were finding that we were truly in tune with one another and with God. From the Chicago physician to the financial executives, to the railway worker, to the unemployed single mom, to the Butler students, to the utility worker, to the funeral directors -- we were all together - a time when you felt like the realm of God was just a little clearer.
There were connections happening around the room...some of the planners of a Spirit and Place event were meeting some good cooks who could cater an event this fall. Some folks from St. Luke's UMC were thinking that maybe they needed to get one of these reggae groups up to perform at their church! Some folks were simply meeting each other for the first time and enjoying getting to know one another. A neighbor, who works in youth ministry, grabbed me and said -- do you think we could have a youth music event here this summer? Who knows? Why not?
The concert featured two reggae groups: Mystic Rain and the Indiana Reggae Band. It also featured a hip-hop group called "The Philosophy." I liked them all. But I've kept noodling with the name of the group The Philosophy. My own philosophy (simple as it is) -- is that "people are weird." (and that certainly includes me). Last night the philosophy to me was clearly -- "we are all one." It was no more clear than in the putting together of this event. Kwanzaa used his connection with the musicians and the DJ -- DJ Dicky Foxx (he was great, as well) to give their time to support this effort. Tom worked with Kwanzaa to help organize the publicity and the logistics of the event. De'Amon is the one who brought all these people together in the first place. Truly a special night.
On to the organ concert -- the Anglican Chorale!