Sermon in a nutshell: Matthew 15:1-20
Our church is going to perform celebration music in Todos Santos Park on July 4th this year after the July 4th parade. Our choir and orchestra will be there but our church members will be there too. I am picturing that all our church members wear our church T-shirt and give away water bottles to the people there. On T-shirts, we will put CUMC and Cross and Flame on front. If people ask what those symbols are, then we will answer that we are from Concord United Methodist Church and we are saved by the Cross of Jesus and empowered to serve the world by the Fire-like power of the Holy Spirit. On back of the shirt, we can print either “Kindness in Progress” or “We want to show God’s Love in practical way.”
Just imagine! Thousands of people will be there. Hundreds of CUMC people will be there also giving away water bottles to the thirsty people on a hot day. They will talk about our choir and our orchestra. They will talk about the radical hospitality of our church members. They will say how generous and kind our church members are! Our performance will be on Concord TV and rebroadcasted at least 3-4 times for the next ten years.
Some may say asking, “Why do your people disobey our age-old tradition? Why CUMC orchestra does not play hymns in a sanctuary but play some secular music in a public park?” Jesus in the Bible would reply that this is a new way to serve God and people whom God loves. We do not do this to satisfy our own desires or for Church Growth. We want to find creative ways to follow Jesus. Jesus replied to the Pharisees that “transforming lives” is more important than “keeping the rules”!
I am thinking of El Sistema founded by Jose Antonio Abreu in Venezuela in 1975 as Social Action for Music. He gathered all the young people from streets. They were using drugs, guns, and violence in wasting their lives. In a traditional framework, classical music is for the elite and for the talented few. However, Abreu taught the street boys and girls music and gave them something to hope for and strive for. It grew now into 102 youth and 55 children’s orchestra sponsored by the Venezuela government. In 2007, the Inter American Development Bank granted 150 million dollar loan for the seven regional centers of El Sistema throughout Venezuela. The bankers found out that El Sistema lowered the drop-out rates and led the decline in crime. Every dollar invested in El Sistema was reaping about 1.68 dollar in social dividends. Isn’t it amazing? Can our church orchestra and music program do the same thing for the young people in our community? Can we build a music hall where young people can come after school and spend time there practicing their music? Can our church be an instrument of peace-making among diverse peoples and cultures through music and foster peace in our community? Can one of our young people be a conductor of the New York Phil? Is your answer Yes? Are you as exciting as I am?
- What are the rules and traditions that we should honor and keep for our faith?
- What are the creative ways to serve God to transform the world?