'My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being ... When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hang-ups ... I want to speak to their souls. "— John ColtraneColtrane’s desire to speak to our souls through his music, is the same for God, who constantly is speaking to us and our souls. Down deep inside of ourselves, on the best of days, we can hear God speaking to our souls. Maybe we hear it in music, maybe jazz or a classical piece, or maybe an old treasured hymn that always brings a tear to our eyes. Music always has a profound effect on us and often we hear more than just the music.
"This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say "THANK YOU GOD" through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues." - John ColtraneThese words from John Coltrane written in the liner notes for his album make clear that he saw his Love Supreme album as an offering to God, a work of thanksgiving for God in his life.
"I would like to tell you that no matter what... it is with God. He is gracious and merciful. His way is in love, through which we all are. It is truly— a love supreme."Coltrane understood God as that love supreme that guided his life and no matter how he failed or how things went, that God's mercy and love would be with him always. His words are for us to hear today!
That love supreme he talks about, is what we see throughout the Bible from God’s actions in the Old Testament through the life & ministry of Jesus in the New Testament. In our opening reading, Amos, a dresser of Sycamore trees, a most unlikely prophet, but the one called by God to bring God’s word to those who crush the poor and ignore those in need.
But unlike Nineveh who heard from the prophet Jonah about their demise, and changed their ways. King Jeroboam and others in power refused to change, and sought to get rid of the prophet, to send him away.
God’s message through a plumb line, setting the people a part from such corrupt leadership, was not well received but again God’s compassion is tested by an unfaithful King and a people who have failed to live up to their covenants. It is a tough love message and compassion for the forgotten in need.
Jesus similarly challenges his listeners with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A parable of mercy, of love, and a challenge to the existing way things are seen in society.
When asked by a lawyer, someone grounded in the Holy Scriptures, what must be done to inherit eternal life, Jesus asks them to answer it – Love God & love your neighbor as yourself, they answer. - “Do this and you will live,” says Jesus. But who is my neighbor?
The one who fell among thieves needs help, the priest and Levite look upon this man and walk away, he is dead or soon will be, they will not be defiled by the dead man but the Samaritan, the least likely, the least favored, the one who does not worship right, is the one who has compassion.
It was and is a radical statement by Jesus. The one least likely, the one who did not worship God as they should, is the one who embodied the compassion of God, who had mercy on the victim.
Maybe today, the parable would speak of Christians who walked by the victim, they had better things to do, they were so busy, but an illegal immigrant or an atheist stopped and had compassion on the victim.
The test isn’t on Jesus, its on us. Will we be like the Love Supreme, giving love and compassion to all whom we encounter, even if its not convenient? Because sometimes, we can learn from one we see as the enemy, the one who does not follow God as we think they should but the one who in fact has done more than us, like the good Samaritan.
It reminds me of a Dr. Seuss story, "Horton Hears a Who!"
Horton the elephant was splashing around in a jungle pool when he heard a small voice crying for help. He looked all around, but all he saw was a tiny speck of dust floating through the air. Horton realized that there was someone on that speck of dust who was calling for help. In fact, there was a whole town of people on that little speck of dust.Horton’s compassion is like God’s who calls us to faithfulness in Amos, not to forget the poor and needy and is like the Good Samaritan who despite all the odds, helps the one in need.
They were calling out for help because they were afraid that the speck of dust would fall into the pool of water and they would drown. Even though they were so small that he couldn't even see them, Horton made up his mind that he was going to help them. "After all," he said, "A person's a person, no matter how small."
All of the other animals in the jungle thought Horton was crazy, all made fun of Horton for wanting to help the people on the speck of dust. They even tried to put Horton in a cage.
Even though none of the other animals would help him, Horton refused to give up. He remained faithful to the task of saving the tiny people who needed his help. Because of his faithfulness, the tiny people were saved and finally, the other animals realized that just as Horton had said, "A person's a person, no matter how small."
“May we never forget,” Coltrane reminds us, “that in the sunshine of our lives, through the storm and after then rain – it is all with God.”May we hear that in our souls today.
Now I invite you to discuss at your tables, the words of John Coltrane, the prophet Amos (a graphic novel), or the parable of the Good Samaritan –
What is God saying to your soul this morning?