Thursday, December 22, 2016

Advent: Redemption as Improv

Dear Lord,
you know how I like Jazz music,
especially the old standards!
Recently I heard a member of my new church 
wail on his saxophone
-- that man has SOUL!

Then I watched the below video
in which Musician Herbie Hancock 
remembers a mortifying moment 
while playing onstage 
with jazz legend Miles Davis.

Video transcribed here: 
The band was hot that night, he recalls, and Davis was in the middle of a solo in the song “So What.” Out of nowhere, Hancock played the wrong chord—it wasn’t just slightly off, it was horrifyingly wrong.
But to Hancock’s amazement, “Miles didn’t hear it as a mistake. He heard it as… something that happened. Just an event. …[It] was part of the reality of what was happening at that moment. And he dealt with it.” Davis reproduced Hancock’s chord and somehow incorporated it into the solo itself: “Since he didn’t hear it as a mistake, he felt it was his responsibility to find something that fit,” Hancock says.
“That taught me a very big lesson about not only music but about life.”
That is what your redeeming work is...
Jazz Improv.

You hear the wrong chords of our lives --
the hatred, the harsh words, the violence,
the abuse, the addiction, the neglect,
the dissonance, the discord, the horrifyingly wrong...

and like Miles Davis,
you play just right notes in Jesus Christ--
love, forgiveness, grace,
peace, healing, recovery,
accountability, compassion, resurrection...

and you redeem our worst
making beautiful music again --
community, unity, peace,
well-being, wholeness, generosity,
rest, Easter-people, hope...

O God,
the great musician,
the band leader,
take up your horn and do it again
in my life and the life of the world.
Redeem this mess and make it sing!
Redeem this chaos and make it swing!

"Joy to the World" as played by Presby Bop

Thank you to MaryAnn McKibben Dana for sharing the video that inspired my writing. See her blog post here:

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