The scene was set for a potential disaster. Seventeen members of a jazz band were clearly a tight knit group. Their performance reflected the result of years of practicing together. Their ease in moving through extended difficult passages, tossing the lead, and playfully winding each other up in the middle of an extended set reflected joy and hope. Then an old gentleman walked in. He sported a maroon jacket and a captain’s hat tilted jauntily as if he didn’t have a care in the world. You would have labeled him an “old dandy” except he had a very large gold medal hanging on a large ribbon around his neck. Even as he sat at the table next to us with his entourage members of the band took note and gave him a sign of respect and honor.
During the break the band huddled with him in a quiet nook of the theatre. I walked by and expressed by appreciation for his award and presence. I had no idea who he was except that he must be important. As I returned to the table with friends I shared my adventure. They wondered how I knew the man. I sheepishly told them I didn’t. I did know that this was a force deserving my respect even if I was uninformed.
As the second set started the host introduced the guest – Jon Hendricks. As the applause subsided our table still couldn’t put him in the context of musical history. Then he got up to participate with the band. As he sang the results was pure mystery; talking to each soul individually, telling a story of love and hope.
We are in a band, in your community and mind. There is a powerful force coming into our space. “Watch this: The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, swings his ax and lops the branches, chops down the giant trees, lays flat the towering forest-on-the-march. His ax will make toothpicks of that forest, that Lebanon-like army reduced to kindling.” (Isaiah 10.33, 34) God is willing to take the band to a new level. I’m ready.
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