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21st Sunday after Pentecost - October 30, 2022

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

This morning is the third and final sermon in a series called One bread. One cup. One love.

The guiding question being, in such a polarized and polarizing culture – pulling us to a radical right or left, what might it look like for the church to move toward the radical center? To see ourselves and others as more than just our opinions (whether they be political or theological), to leave the tribalism, the partisan identities and rhetoric, as there is a difference between political thought and partisan identity – and to encounter one another, encounter the suffering of our world, encounter the real, encounter Christ in the center. The first week we looked at one bread through the feeding of the five thousand and talked about participating in the shared world. Last week we dove into one cup and into the story of James and John and the other disciples jockeying for a winning position and considered how the kingdom of God belongs to those who know how to lose. Now, we enter Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and see what it might look like when one love is at work.

Our son Jude, he’s a drummer – he comes home from school, drumsticks, practice pad, he’s starting to talk like a drummer, walk like a drummer, and he’s got the perfect hair for it too. He’s already way cooler than his dad ever was or will be. Thinking about Jude being a drummer takes me back, though. In the Fall of 1996, I was sixteen years old, my dad was teaching me to drive a stick-shift, I was sporting a pair of vans and tattered jeans, and lots of hemp necklaces. You 90’s kids remember hemp necklaces? I had what looked like a turtleneck of hemp (so embarrassing). And I loved two things more than anything – music and drumming. (Girls were in that mix too, but music was just more reliable.) After school, close the door to my room, throw on my headphones – and disappear. But it was around this time I started listening less to rock n’roll drummers and more to jazz drummers. Trying to find my way around the drum set the way they did, imitating (rather poorly) Art Blakey rolls, or Max Roach solos, strange time signatures and rhythms…and I fell in love with their ability to improvise, jazz being an improvisational art. I still love it. My two favorite jazz drummers being Joe Morello and Elvin Jones. Morello played with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, he was portly, dark rimmed glasses, lenses the size of coke bottles, a technical genius. Watching film of Morello drum is like watching a Harvard math professor work-out an equation on the board. After each song, you’d half-expect to find chalk dust on the lapel of his jacket. Elvin Jones, on the other hand, was the only drummer that could accompany Coltrane on his shamanic musical journey. When Elvin Jones played drums, he looked like a man falling out of a tree, reaching for every branch on the way down, not to stop the fall - just to find different ways to swing from them, letting gravity work its magic. Trusting that if Coltrane didn’t catch him at the end, McCoy Tyner’s piano would. I wanted to play like them. I wanted to be that good. When I was sixteen, I was learning how to improvise…