Like Martin Luther, many of us love music. I know I do. Indeed, the appreciation of music may be the most important by-product of the ‘reason’ which separates our mortal flesh from that of the animal kingdom.
Recently, perusing the aisles of an antique mall, I came across the sheet music (original) for my single favorite song.
Its’ composer was a wanderer, known for long hair, flowing robes, and a disdain for the materialism of modern life. He had to be hunted down to obtain the rights to record his song. (He was ultimately found camping out at the foot of the second ‘L’ in the iconic ‘HOLLYWOOD’ sign) His name was eden ahbez (all lower case at his insistence). Ultimately he was sought after by the most powerful musical powerhouses of the time.
The haunting melody, and the fragile innocence of the lyric has always stayed with me. The chance discovery of it at the antique mall corresponded in time with recent passages I have been studying in Ephesians and Jeremiah. This timing, and the striking countenance of the composer on the cover of the sheet music helped to remind me that there is, at the design of our Creator, at least a little bit of Jesus in all of us. Whether we know it or not, he is there…..
Sometime ago, I heard on the radio a bluegrass song which piqued my interest. The lyric contained the refrain that: “Jesus lives in every heart…it’s just that some of us must dig deeper into it to find him”.
To me, this speaks volumes about the current challenges to spiritual life and to truly walking in the light the Grace of our Lord shone down upon us through sacrificing his only Son for our sins. Too many of us still cling to the false’ idols’ of wealth; pride; social stature or racial identity as we walk through life. We forget the teachings of Ephesians, which remind us, ( however futilely) that the purpose of God in the sacrifice of his only Son was to free us from sin and to unite us mortals into one “holy temple in the Lord”.
Through the death of our sin on the Cross, we became one. Circumcised and uncircumcised; Jew and Gentile; roving apostle and Pharisee; all have been joined in a Grace which was meant to enable us to serve and love God by loving each other. However, (and sadly) it becomes too easy to fall back on mortal ways, classifying and sorting ourselves as ‘believer’s or no’; ‘true faithful’ or not; ‘generous’ or not. This failing is, effectively, a relapse into the sin of pride. Unless we listen to the music in our hearts, and heed the spirit of the Nature Boy which resides in each (and every) one of us, we will suffer the same plight as the tribes of Israel did when, as a favorite Danny Kaye song of mine goes,: ” that village near Gomorrah got too hot for Lot.”
But back to Ephesians. “One new humanity out of two” was the Holy purpose of the Cross. As such, all hearts should be as one. All praise to the Lord is of equal tone; voice; volume and melody. The ‘timbre’ of the music the Spirit sings through our heart will be clearer than the most perfectly cast bell; more resonant than the most exquisitely tuned organ; more stirring than the deepest drum.
So, as the bluegrass lyric I referred to at the opening of this post reminds us, all we really need to do is look deep into our hearts, past the striated outer layers into the smooth tissue which contains the essence of the Holy Spirit…the pure, redeemed blood of the Christ which walked among us to teach; instruct;and inform us, and which was shed for our redemption.
As Jeremiah 9:25-26 reveals, we are doomed to perish if we are “uncircumcised in heart“. We must peel back, i.e., ‘circumcise’ the layers of our hearts to truly see the Light of His Spirit. If we can do this, love for one another will be relatively simple. However open our eyes; however unplugged our ears; however uninterrupted by our tongues…. we can only really see things clearly with our hearts. What is essential is invisible to the eye.
And thus, we should close our eyes to concentrate on the message of the Nature Boy who was Jesus and hear the music of the Spirit, which may not be so deep within us as we suppose. Peel back the layers. Listen to the angels.
And let us love one another.
For those who prefer the more traditional original studio version:
For those, like me; who prefer trusting to the improvisation of the music in their hearts: