Last week Bruce Springsteen kicked off his Wrecking Ball tour at the Phillips Arena here in Atlanta. The pictures brought back memories of the first (and only) time I heard Springsteen live in concert at the Arena only a couple years earlier. That night he became as much a preacher as a musician. He was gathering up the crowds in an exhilarating, rhythmic vision of how music can help to redeem the world. Together it seemed that preacher and congregation really could have brought the house down just with the sound of their voices.
That night I didn’t just acquire another idol to worship- yes, Bruce, if you’re reading this, you after Jesus really are “The Boss” and I think you’re hot. I also walked away asking what the church could learn from this rock and roll legend.
Wrecking Ball is Bruce’s 17th studio album, and in the trademark of Springsteen, its songs describe the distance between American reality and the American dream. Here is a clip of Springsteen performing “Death to My Hometown” in Atlanta:
Biblical prophecy works similarly. Prophets hold up a vision of God’s dream for us and then tell the truth about the distance between how we’re living and how God would have us live. They do this sort of thing over and over again.
Maybe the most fundamental lesson of Springsteen is that this kind of truth telling needs to be happening over and over again, even when it can sound annoying after a while. And when it’s told, it needs to be told with an enticing, full-sensory invitation to be part of God’s unfolding dream and the real conviction that together we can enflesh the dream.
Making music together is a start.