Beliefnet
The Jazz Theologian

We are practicing Christians.  We have spent time in the woodshed learning the old
standards.  Now we syncopate,
improvise and respond to the call of a Love Supreme.

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Christians are called to live out our faith in
community.  When Jesus called the
first disciples to follow him it was as a group of individuals–E Pluribus
Unum.  Jazz is about community.  The word ensemble means, “together at
the same time.”  God could be
thought of as the original jazz ensemble. 
The Triune God has loved forever as many and yet one–Father, Son and
Holy Spirit–while never violating the ancient Shema, “Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is
one.”  Jesus calls us to live this
way, to be many and yet one in the body of Christ.  


We are a community of past, present and future.  To enter into relationship with God is
to be invited to the table of the Triune and simultaneously with everyone else
whom he has invited.  That means
that we live faithfully with the knowledge that we are not the first and
probably not the last to follow the ancient way of Jesus.  I sought to recognize this mystery in,
Strange Fruit.  You might have
noticed that when I was praying (chapters 3-7) I was in conversation with God
(Father, Son, Holy Spirit), while showing awareness that I’m not alone.  I’m surrounded by those who have
followed Christ in the past (Adam, Eve and Peter for example) and with those
currently seeking Christ (you).  I
don’t think that I did a good job of considering and conversing with those who
have yet to enter into the way of the kingdom, whether it be tomorrow or one
hundred years from now.  I still
need to develop that skill.  Which
leads to another implication ensemble community:  Life in concert assumes practice.

            When
we take the stage together as God’s people we should be able to assume that we
have practiced the basics of the faith, that we possess a fundamental knowledge
of God and his ways and that we understand the instrument that he has handed us
to play.  Jazz theologians are
those who have put in the hard work of rehearsing things like, turning the
other cheek and forgiving seventy times seven so that those around us can count
on us, by God’s grace, to respond as Jesus would.

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