"There is an intellectual desire, an eros of the mind. Without it there would arise no questioning, no inquiry, no wonder." Bernard Lonergan

"It seems clear that humans cannot significantly reduce or mitigate the dangers inherent in their use of life by ccumulating more information or better theories or by achieving greater predictability or more caution in their scientific and industrial work. To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it." Wendell Berry

"Do not be afraid, my little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Old and New and New and Old

photo credit Daily World News

In my family we are “light-weight” theater people. None of us have ever had formal singing or acting lessons, but we have been involved in community theater since the kids were very little. We have played bit parts in teeny-tiny productions, and some of us have had larger parts at community colleges and even larger stages. A near-perfect date night for me and my wife will almost always involve seeing some drama, comedy or musical.
At our core, I think we “light-weight” theater people love theater because we love stories. And lately one story has captured the imagination of our family. Perhaps you have heard of it? It is called Hamilton, and it is a modern musical based upon the political life of Alexander Hamilton. Historically, Alexander Hamilton was a giant—the major writer of the Federalist Papers, head of the U.S. Treasury during Washington’s presidency and a forefather of modern New York. Perhaps you have heard of this show. It is currently the most popular show on Broadway and will likely run for years and years. It is destined to be an American classic!
Lest I lead anyone to an erroneous assumption, no, we have not seen the show. It is far too expensive for our family to go. But we have the compact disc, and we have listened to it for months. The melodies are catchy. The emotions are authentic. The style is part jazz-era scat, modern rap and big Broadway melodies. It is a new kind of musical with styling appropriate to the 21st century. Everything about it is modern.
Everything, that is, except the story. The story is 240 years old. For the first time that I can remember, this modern presentation has kids and teens all over America singing about American history. Suddenly, it’s hip to sing about one of the founding fathers of this country. It has been quite a surprise to nearly everyone, even our “light-weight” theater family.
As I have been driving around listening to my family sing about the Federalist Papers in the car, I cannot help but think about the church. Not just our church. I have been thinking about “the Church.”
In the Church, we tell and hold and keep and share a story that is 2,000 years old. In all of our variants, in all our forms, what churches have done since the beginning is to take this old story—of Jesus Christ and his mercy and saving work—and interpret it for every age. So in every age that has passed and in every age that is to come, people have been and will be singing and reciting the story of God and the miracle of the gospel.
Our job in the Church is to make the old story new again—and then to pray and listen for the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, so it might teach us how to keep the story alive for those who have yet to hear. In this way, the Church is reborn over and over.

So friends, as spring slides into summer, let us each seek the story in new ways. Let us make ourselves available to God’s surprises—because God is always taking old things and breathing new life into them.

See this link for more on Hamilton:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAiEVjW-GNA

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