What Is God Thinking - In You?

Yesterday Nancy and I were blessed with the privilege of attending a Belleville Masterworks Chorale Concert at the Russel E. and Fern M. Hettenhausen Center for the Arts on the beautiful campus of McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. Saying the concert was fantastic would be an understatement, yet the entirety of the concert is not what caught my attention.

As a part of the concert, the Masterworks Chorale had invited internationally acclaimed operatic soprano, Ms. Christine Brewer, to perform with them and, as she delivered a most memorable performance of George Gershwin's, Summertime, the thought crossed my mind, "I wonder if Gershwin ever imagined the incredible instrument of Christine's voice singing this beautiful and powerful piece?" In the time between then and now, that thought has been mulling around in my mind.

Written in 1935 as a part of the opera 'Porgy and Bess',  Summertime is sung by Clara as a lullaby to her baby - and its melody is both hauntingly simple and mysteriously complex, in composition and delivery. Abie Mitchell, first sang Summertime on stage as she played the part of Clara in the opera, wrapping the audience in Gershwin's melodic call to kinder, more peaceable times. When later repeated by Bess in the production, the profound hope of the original vision takes on an even more wistful contrast compelling the audience to wrestle with the chasm between the two.

There is no way to account for the number of performers who have lingered on the notes of Summertime in the many years since its first performance, but among them are Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, Miles Davis and, of course, Christine Brewer. Could Gershwin ever have imagined, much less hoped for, such a legendary group of musicians to offer their interpretations of this compelling work of art and musicianship?

Which drives me to further question what it is God envisions in all of humanity, in you and me. As God composes creation and all things therein for every generation, what is it that God has in mind for how it will work, what melody will be heard, what good will come of it or how others in later generations will receive it? Who will be the instruments among us which dare to linger on the Notes of the Story? To raise the the Holy Mystery which is offered? Or to dare to tell the Truth, even when others find it offensive to consider?

Could it be that God brought forth Gershwin for just such a moment as described in Summertime? That Christine's delivery of this particular aria, along with all other performers along the way, is God's way of warning us never to forget such times in our history or such longings in our collective soul? Maybe more importantly, is it impossible to contemplate the notion of a God who is creating you for such a moment, as well? That your life has as much potential to awe and transform the world for good where you are as does the work of Gershwin, Mitchell, Fitzgerald, Armstrong, Joplin, Nelson, Davis or Brewer in this singular opera? Or decidedly much more? 

Your being is not an accident of God. In you is one expression of God's Vision for the cosmos. Do not limit God's Voice by diminishing, or allowing others to diminish, your giftedness in creation where you are. The 'Good' of God in you has been spoken from the beginning and is meant to add to the 'Good' of others for the sake of God's Hope for all Creation.

Such is the gift of the music I was privileged to hear yesterday as Christine Brewer performed, Summertime. I cannot begin to fathom what it is we are to hear in your birthing, life, living and service in the days to come - as an expression of God's intentionality in all things. Can you? Listen closely, there is more to be revealed in the Spirit of God at work in us all. Thanks be to God!

Something to ponder on the journey.

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