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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

50 years and just getting started

My favorite musician, by far and away, is Van Morrison. This guy. Image result for van morrison

I remember as a kid, I must have been 10 or so, and listening to Van the Man on midnight FM radio. His music was transcendent. (And remember how the DJs would just play an album? No commercials. No breaks. Just set the needle on the turntable and let the music play. Nowadays with our selections, our playlists, choosing our own sounds to hear, we don't get those surprises of the unknown next track. Find a way to listen to the album Tupelo Honey without interruption or commercial, on a bed, late at night. You will know love.) His sounds were not the sounds I heard the rest of the day. It was a true experience to heat Van Morrison after a day of school and all the noises that went into my day. His music was balm, his lyrics truth.

Over the years Van Morrison has written straight. I find his poetry, imaged with references to Blake, the Bible, Little Richard, and phrases that pepper our doldrums are turned by him into the brightest of music. Here's some phrase we use to talk about how boring, drab, unhappy, and empty our lives are that Mr. Morrison has turned into songs of wonder, hope, and love:
"Days like this"
                  "Keep it simple"
                                       "Bright side of the road"
                                                                 "Precious time"
                                                                                 "Have I told you lately"
He has a true gift.

Of course, like all artists, he has his own take on things that make for some truly other-worldly understandings.
"No Guru, No Method, No Teacher"
                                                            "Into the Mystic"
                                                                           "Celtic New Year"
                                                                                                 "Avalon Sunset"
A gift for melody, and an un-surpassed ear for rhythm and harmony.

I remember back in college whenever anyone wanted to hear Van Morrison that usually meant "Brown-Eyed Girl." I like the song, although Mr. Morrison is not too fond of it it seems, but it did make him kind of famous, so there's that...But there is so much more to his music than that classic. (As a side note, I once sang that song at a karaoke bar, and me and my friends drank free for the rest of the night. Who knew?)

I believe God gifts all of us in equal ways, although there are some gifts that certain contexts highlight over others, and certain personalities can take advantage of to make art. Van Morrison has the wonderful combination of God's gifts to him, his instincts and drive, his context and training, and timing that all go into one person being a Van Morrison making music rather than a George Morrison cleaning windows.

And what's true for Van Morrison is true for all of us. We have gifts from God, we have our instincts and drive, we have our contexts and locations, and timing creates for us our lives too. I think that is exactly why God gave you your gifts, to see what you'd become. You won't be Van Morrison, but you are you, and that's as precious to God as Mr. Morrison or anyone else. Jesus of Nazareth freed us in his resurrection to see that God's gifts are not a contest to win or survive, but rather to share and to celebrate. And Mr. Morrison has been doing that now for close to 50 years. How about joining him, and sharing yours too?

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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