Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Jazzing up Worship

One of my favorite poems is “I Stopped Writing Poetry,” by Bernard Welt. I stumbled across it my senior year in high school, and it still bounces into my consciousness every now and again. Here’s an excerpt:
I stopped writing poetry
When I was just starting to get good at it. First
I got good at rhyme, so I cast it away.
Then I got good at line and stanza construction—
So good I hardly needed to say anything at all.
My meanings emerged
                                                in the spaces between.
So I got rid of that, too. Metaphor, metonymy,
Allusive echoes of my betters — well, frankly,
I was a whiz at that stuff pretty early on.
So I emptied out the file-drawers
Of rhetorical strategy, musical form,
Continuity or criticism of tradition,
And I just wrote. Finally I found
I was writing… prose, like everyone else.

It’s a great poem, I encourage you to find it and read it. It speaks to passion and loss, to stagnation and hope. It popped into my head today because I’ve been thinking on the Jazz Vespers for a while, and I think I’ve been writing prose, so to speak. Or at least, we’ve fallen into a similar worship experience with vastly different music.

Please, do not get me wrong — I love worship, and I love how we do worship at Midway Hills on Sunday mornings. But reflecting on what the original view of this service was going to be — readings from all across the spectrum, new ways to engage in prayer, music from our tradition and other traditions, church for people who don’t do church — and I think we can embrace that more fully. So! Beginning in August, I’d like to form a Jazz Vespers team, to help plan and discuss the flow and format of the service. If you are interested in being a collaborator in this venture, drop me a line or let me know in person. If you’re not, that’s all right — you’re still well-loved.

This Sunday, by the way, we’ll be launching Science Sundays for the next three weeks. There’s a lot to talk about, especially with our Both-And God. Have a safe Fourth, and I look forward to seeing you on the Sixth.

Shalom y’all,


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