Yesterday, I attended a wonderful Gospel and classical concert at Virginia-Highland Church. It was an amazing illustration of the gifts at our church. The two powerful sopranos were African-American. One of the singers is right at home singing Gospel-style country and folk music and playing in the string band, though by day she is a professor at Georgia Tech. One member of the choir has a great tenor voice and presents as a woman, but doesn’t identify with either gender. One of the tenors is Vietnamese. I could go on about each member of the music program and tell you what makes them unique and special.
The music ministry did a great job presenting a variety of music, with several African-American spirituals as well as selections by Handel, Debussy, Schubert, and Bach. The concert was an expression of what I love about this church, AND it is a parable about what the Beloved Community is supposed to be: a beautiful rainbow of God’s children making harmonious music together. Each musician could have said that one piece or the other was not from their tradition. They might have sat out a song because the composer was somehow offensive to them, or the lyrics didn’t align perfectly with their values and views.
The concert was a beautiful example of how we might live together if we are willing to learn one another’s songs, set aside some of our boundaries, and value diversity over conformity. There are choirs throughout Atlanta that could have done this concert, and some might have even sounded better. This, however, was as diverse a picture of the Realm of God as you would find anywhere, and their music was powerful in a different way for it.
I have great fear for our nation if we cannot find a way to set aside some of the things that divide us and learn to make beautiful music together. It will require us to stop shouting past one another and listen for our better angels and the common ground. The win/lose model is not the way to harmony.
Rev. Michael Piazza