Friday, January 27, 2012

Music Notes for January 22

       The theme of the call continues in this week’s stories of Jonah and the first few disciples. Whoever compiled our lectionary could have picked instead the story of Elisha, who left his father and mother behind to become Elijah’s protégé (I Kings 19: 19-20), much as James and John left Zebedee standing in the boat, holding his nets. But Jonah held a special significance for Jesus: when the scribes, Pharisees and crowds pressed him for miracles, they were told to wait for the resurrection which would follow three days in a tomb, as Jonah had spent three days in the belly of the whale (Matt. 12: 39-42; Luke 11: 29-32). Most of us can identify with Jonah’s story: during periods of uncertainty, indecision, insecurity or loneliness, we often talk about being in the belly of the whale, waiting for a breakthrough. We also share Jonah’s rebellious nature, preferring the easy way out, the path of least resistance, and then are disappointed and frustrated if God does not fulfill our expectations. The scripture for the next three weeks is something of a mini-course for prophets. For St. Paul, the disciple needs to be free of material attachments. He or she must also have open ears, an open mind and an open heart, as Psalm 25 says: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths. . . . . [You] guide the humble to justice, [and] teach the humble [your] way.”  So a prophet may be discerned by a commitment to justice. The last paragraph of the psalm, verses 16-22, refers to the loneliness, trials and tribulations of the prophet in the whale’s belly. We will pray this psalm again on the first Sunday of Lent.
      The by-now classic meditation on the “fishers of men” story is Pescador de Hombres, “Lord, When You Came to the Seashore,” by Spanish priest Cesáreo Gabaráin (1936-1991). Sr. Donna McGargill’s “Servant Song” is another musical conversation with Jesus. Jesus’ public ministry is poetically summed up in 5 verses by Sydney Carter (1915-2004), using the Shaker tune “Simple Gifts.” At 10:00 we will sing two spirituals on the importance of listening: “Somebody’s Knocking at Your Door” and “Somebody’s Callin’ My Name.” Organ Masses conclude with the charge of the prophet Micah (6:8): “We are called to act with justice, . . . to love tenderly, . . .  to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.”  Worship at 10:00 concludes with Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Follow.”