The Jazz Theologian

The Jazz Theologian

Relationships in Jazz: Life in Concert

What a night we just had at the Soiled Dove Underground for another session of Finding the Groove Live!  We talked about how jazz offers an alternative to the models of the melting pot and the salad bowl when it comes to relationships, namely…

"Ensemble:  A unit of complementary parts that contribute to a sing effect.  From the French meaning, "together."  From the Latin, meaning "at the same time."

There are many characteristics to Ensemble Community, one of them is practice.  Life in Concert is made possible through practice…practice…practice!  In jazz practice takes many forms…

  • Casual Apprenticships
  • Jam Sessions
  • Time in the "Wood Shed"

I think we are at the point in American Christianity where we need to distinguish between "cultural" Christians and "practicing" Christians.


So here are the questions:  What is a practicing Christian?  What should we expect from each other as followers of Christ?  If someone were to follow Christ and be in church for a number of years, are there certain things we should be able to count on each other for when it comes to life in concert?

To sum it up, how would you finish the following sentence:  A practicing Christian…

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posted August 2, 2007 at 12:13 am

A practicing Christian…
gives gace and receives grace…

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posted August 2, 2007 at 9:18 am

A practicing Christian . . .
learns from the past, acts in the present looking toward the future.

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Rebecca Schaefer

posted August 2, 2007 at 4:40 pm

A practicing Christian imitates Jesus as He walked the way of the cross in community, from triumphal entry into the womb of Mary through the post-resurrection visitations to His disciples. If we say we are Christ-followers, that means we step in His very footsteps like a child stretching with each stride to follow a parent or older sibling. Early on we develop our spiritual muscles via the disciplines of the “communion of saints” in our families. As we mature, we enter times like Jesus on the donkey entering Jerusalem in triumph, but realizing no one really gets why we are here, or truly wants to explore who we are. (WE SHOULD EXPECT someone from within OUR CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY to be genuinely intrigued, excited and CURIOUS about us and to explore/study what the Holy Spirit is up to in us LIKE A JAZZ SONG OR A REMBRANDT painting).
On the “way of the cross”, we’ll stumble & fall only to pick the cross up again, carry it awhile, stumble & fall…(WE SHOULD EXPECT ANOTHER CHRIST-FOLLOWER to listen to our confession, wipe the sweat from our brow…to offer solace or perspective, to weep & lament over injustice and sin in and around us).
When we get to the shameful, crucible, humiliation time when all eternity hangs in the balance, not unlike Christ on the cross, we need others to remind us why He restrained Himself & stayed til death when at any point He could have struck back at those persecuting Him. He chose restraint in order to send and release the power of the Holy Spirit into us – the beloved community of followers. (WE SHOULD EXPECT OUR COMMUNITY to peak into the dark night WHEN WE FEEL MOST BETRAYED BY OUR FATHER AND SIBLINGS IN CHRIST: TO SEE WHERE THE TREASURE IS, TO POINT US TO THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIGHT, TO REMIND US THAT A SONG OF PRAISE ALWAYS FOLLOWS THE WAIL OF LAMENT… AND THAT WE CAN OFFER ORAISE AS A SACRIFICE BEFORE WE FEEL IT IN OUR HEARTS).
When we die to self will as followers and rise to new life with restored joy & purpose, then we’ll go back to communicate the transition to our ensemble community. WE CAN EXPECT our beloved co-followers to delight in the glory of God and listen to our whole story…our complete set.

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Tamara Cain

posted August 2, 2007 at 7:56 pm

…is one that is inspired by and living through the Holy Spirit. A practicing Christian “walks his/her talk” by acting upon the promptings of the Holy Spirit. They are not afraid to be vulnerable (with humility) as they operate with Christ’s heart to see the needs of His “people” through his heart and eyes. In other words, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and move upon those promptings and not be ashamed to do the will of the Lord, whether it may look foolish or unpopular with the status quo.

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posted August 3, 2007 at 6:59 am

A practicing Christian practices being a Christian . . . moment by moment.

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Jon Paul

posted August 3, 2007 at 8:13 am

…actively and continually surrenders his or her life and will to God; all this on a moment to moment basis. It is easy for me to be a loving Christian at church service and such. Yet I must continually remind myself that a practicing Christian places the burden of the bondage of the self and of self will in the hands of our Lord. “Thy will be done…not mine.” This sounds familiar as we’ve heard it countless times. Yet I feel this for me is the most basic of all levels, where I feel faith is most deeply rooted for me. Try this when you are sitting at your desk, drop your pencil, break the tip off, reach down to pick it up, hit your head on the corner of your desk, sit back up, see the person on the other side of the desk that needs something from you in a hurry, like right now, and what they have to say to to you and how they say it are a little sharp, less than respectful, and critical, and your cell phone is ringing again in your desk for the 8th time this morning. “God I surrender myself to thee. Relieve me of the bondage of self. Thy will be done, NOT MINE.”

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posted August 3, 2007 at 10:15 am

A practicing Christian has a passion for growing closer to Christ and getting to know him better every day.

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posted August 3, 2007 at 1:35 pm

A practicing Christain still falls like any other man, only to repent for their sin time and time again. Humbling themselves to God’s greatness and praying for strength and closeness to him through the Word of God. Lord have mercy!!!!

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posted August 3, 2007 at 7:02 pm

a practicing Christian is one who desires in a small, imperfect way to follow Christ, and fails.
A practicing Christian is one who is desired by a perfect, amazing God, and is forgiven, is given Christ as Lord and Savior.
i think that’s it. Thats a practicing Christian.
Theres so much to the Christian life; to give, to serve, to connect, to allow Christ to shine threw us in ALL we do. But when Christ truley comes into our lives, we are made new, and the journey begins. i think the Holy Spirit then works within us, causing us to reach out and serve and desire Him more.
Trouble is not that “cultural Christians” don’t do good, wonderful things, but that they dont have Christ in the first place. Too many people think of Christianity as being primarily a intelectual or academic exercize, and miss Christ all together. like our earlier disscission on evangelism, cultural Christians are interested in facts about God (or traditions or whatever) and miss God. and its a very sad thing.

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posted August 4, 2007 at 8:21 am

What a cool topic. So many awesome answers, don’t think I could add anything…’cept Rebecca, your post was encouraging, absolutely inspiring. I must’ve read it 10 times.

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Gary The Flan

posted August 5, 2007 at 4:16 pm

A practing Christian utterly, deeply, knows and respects/honors other members of the ensemble. She/He knows they are all attempting to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.
They completely “bank-on” the fact that it doesn’t matter if that one’s rendition of the song is real different than his. She doesn’t care that when this one plays, he pooches out his cheeks real funny and some uninvited folks laugh.
They don’t care that this dude waves his arms around when he sings, and that one weeps silently. It doesn’t matter that this one is so overwhelmed by the presence of the Band Leader, that he occasionally is a little squeaky on his horn. She doesn’t care that that girl plays her drum so hard it seems like she is going to punch a hole in the drum head.
That guys sings off key, that girl is so perfect when she sings, you are almost embarassed to try to sing along. That one moves funny, that one is in a wheel chair, that one can’t hear, another one is from someplace you can’t even pronounce, that women’s skin is such a differnt color than the one sitting next to her, and her facial features are so mysterious…
None of this matters to a practicing member of the Kingdom ensemble. They know how hard it is to sing the Lord’s song in this very strange world we are currently occupying.
The practicing member of the Kingdom ensemble was personally invited to join the group, and the best decision they ever made was to sign up and start playing.
Can you dig it?

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posted August 6, 2007 at 11:09 am

These responses are awesome…thanks for all of the serious thought you are putting in to this. There are some things I never would have thought of and they make me want to think even more. Other’s of you have affirmed some of my gut reactions.
Keep it up…
I can dig it!

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posted August 6, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Sticking with the jazz theme I would like to respond in this way.
~A Jazz Musician (JM)
~A Practicing Christian (PC)
JM ~must be able to play in all types of groups.
PC ~must be able to worship with all types of Christians.
JM ~must be able to change their style and respond to the group their playing in.
PC ~must be able to know what scripture or resource can be applied to certain life events.
JM ~must be able to listen to others,not dominate and allow others to lead.
PC ~must be able to listen to others,not dominate and allow others to lead.

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posted August 8, 2007 at 6:14 am

1) Loves the LORD and His Word above all things.
2) Mouth and actions do not contradict.
3) Toxic thoughts do no fester.
4) Offenses are released and not acted upon in the flesh.
5) Has a Biblical world view.
6) Loves Israel and the Jewish people.
7) Stands firm on God’s promises when adversity strikes.

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Dan Endy

posted May 29, 2009 at 8:05 am

isn’t perfect but follows the One who is.

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posted May 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm

…is something quite simple: one who loves the Lord with all of his heart, mind, and soul and loves his neighbor as himself AND lives his life that way.

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