Born to Run (but it took me a while to figure it out)

I was fourteen years old when Bruce Springsteen released the Born to Run albumthough for me it was the Born to Run 8-track.  The player in my 1969 Chevy Impala eventually required a Popsicle stick to adjust the tracking, because I wore it out singing those eight songs over and over: Someday girl I don’t know when we’re gonna’ get to that place were we really want to go and we’ll walk in the sun, but till then tramps like us baby we were born to run.

When Bruce and the E Street Band came to Cleveland a friend said, “A bunch of us are going to hear Springsteen.  Do you want to go?”

Most aficionados would have immediately, enthusiastically shouted, “Yes!” but most aficionados weren’t conservative-leaning-to-fundamentalist-Christians.  I ended up saying “No,” because I was afraid of the people who would be there.  I pictured a crowd drinking beer and smoking dope.  My religious upbringing made it clear that I shouldn’t be part of a mob of criminals, reprobates, and good for nothings.

I was forty-seven before I got to my first Springsteen concert.  When we got to our seats—which were “backstage” but not in a good way—the could-have-been-a-vice-principal next to Carol asked, “Do you think we’ll have to stand through this?”

A quick glance at the gray hair around us made Carol confident in saying, “I’m sure we’ll get to sit.”

We stood for the whole two and half hours.  Some danced in the aisles.  We clapped and raised our hands.  We shouted and sang as a congregation.   It felt like a Pentecostal revival.

The Boss thinks we are all in this together—criminals, reprobates and church people:

Everybody needs a place to rest

Everybody wants to have a home

Don’t make no difference what nobody says

Ain’t nobody like to be alone.

Everybody’s got a hungry heart.

I looked at the people who were singing with such joy and was embarrassed for myself and for the part of the church that keeps pushing people away.  The choir included drinkers and teetotalers, the promiscuous and the chaste, black and white, old and young, bikers and preachers.  Where in the Gospels do any of us get the idea that church people should feel superior to anyone else in the crowd?

On Sunday, January 22, at 3:00 at the parsonage, a group will gather to discuss Bruce’s new memoir, Born to Run, and how God loves us all—even the tramps like us that were born to run.

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Too Busy To Sing

I came to work on Tuesday with a detailed to-do list.  If everything went perfectly, I would end the day writing something for the e-news.  If I got through six of the ten items, it would be a productive day.  If I got through five, I would have kept up.  If I only got through four, I would be seriously behind.

I got off to a good start, but made the mistake of checking e-mail.  (Don’t look at your e-mail if you want to get things done.)  I had seven e-mails to which I needed to respond.  The wonderful sermon ideas I had written on Monday night were now clearly unacceptable.  I remembered something that I was supposed to have done a week ago.

Someone I really wanted to talk to dropped by.  I had several conversations with children who were at Vacation Bible Camp.  Carol was with the youth, so I was on my own for lunch—which I should have realized before I went home at noon.

On Tuesday afternoon, we have worship planning and staff meetings.  I enjoy both, even when they go long.  At 6:00, I had gotten through three of the ten items on my to-do list.

I wanted to work late, but I had told Jacque Jones that I would go to the hymn sing at 7:00.  I did not have time to sing, but I took my bad attitude with me to the choir room.

Bruce Oelschlager had chosen international hymns.  We started with a Spanish tune, “Come Christians, Join to Sing.”

The people in attendance were smart enough to know that if we do not want to sing, then we have lost our way.  Music is yoga for people who do not want to wear yoga pants.

We sang a Brazilian hymn, “O Sing to the Lord/Cantad al Senor”—which is Spanish, though they speak Portuguese in Brazil.  I briefly considered raising my hand to complain.

We sang a Scottish song with the wonderful line, “The house of faith has many rooms where we have never been.”

People who sing are happier than people who do not.  Singing makes it hard to stay frustrated.

We sang “Christ beside Me,” a Gaelic hymn based on the Prayer of St. Patrick from the fifth century.

I was no longer thinking about what I should have gotten done.

We sang the Ghanaian hymn “Jesu, Jesu” and asked God to “fill us with your love.”

Singing reminds us of things that are not on our to-do list.

Some of us will gather in the choir room to sing hymns at 7:00 on August 23 and 30.  If you are too busy to sing, you should come.  If you are too tired to sing, you should try.  If you think you are too important to sing, you need to sing.

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In the Kingdom God Envisions

In the Kingdom God Envisions

In the kingdom God envisions everyone is free.
People formed in God’s own image live with dignity.
All are safe and all have voices,
all have hope and all have choices.
When we pray “your kingdom come” this is the world we see.

Darkened corners harbor victims hidden from our sight,
fragile people held as objects – lives devoid of light;
robbed of freedom, robbed of voices,
robbed of hope and robbed of choices,
trust betrayed and lives exploited, in this human blight.

Holy Spirit, guide your church to action and rebirth;
help us work for those forgotten – show their lives have worth.
We have freedom, we have voices,
we have hope and we have choices.
We are called to work for justice as your hands on earth.

Scripture: Luke 4:18
Topic: Human Trafficking

Copyright © 2013, 2014, GIA Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Click here to view the Human Trafficking Awareness 2014 Panel and Concert program

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