I love singing with the singers of the Baptist church for many reasons. First of all because they are just nice folks, and it feels so great to find common ground and build bridges, especially when it’s the hate that gets all the press. Secondly, I love the music and the musicians. The current music director is Brother Jack Blanton: Minister of Music, and he packs a huge and jazzy sound. Deacon Michael Wells conducts straight from the heart. And we can learn so much from their powerful, direct and passionate pouring of their souls into the music. Nothing tepid about it.
Their Pastor is inspired, the Reverend John Armstrong. He lost his young, beautiful wife tragically in 2010 and almost lost his life himself from a very recent illness, but he is the antithesis of bitter. Gushing about the blessings and the healing that he has enjoyed, about the meaningful and potent life can be, on the joy of praise, and of reaching out to help another, he brought tears to my eyes. We have so much to learn from our Friends of a different faith, and much to gain in embracing them in common pursuit.
In an outrageous coincidence, this week’s Torah reading, which dramatically includes the Ten Commandments, is named Yitro, after this the leader of another faith and culture. And yet it this foreigner/ kin that teaches Moses how to handle leadership by delegating! Tradition says we were all there at Sinai, and I could swear I saw Brother Jack, Deacon Wells and Pastor Armstrong there too next to Yitro!
One more thing: during the service we sang the old spiritual “We Shall Overcome“, and the Pastor spoke a bunch about overcoming, as did Dr. King. I noticed for the first time, that the word “Overcome” is built from the root “come”, although we think about it as a forward “going”. To what are we coming, when overcoming? Coming home? To one another? To truth and spirituality? I just know it’s better Hand in Hand!