Thursday, January 21, 2016

Singing the song of connection

Melanie has a song on her lips. She is a musician—she spent 18 years playing in a band—and is a conductor. She is a different kind of conductor. She likes to work with diverse groups, even prisoners, bringing them together in song. She just returned from four days on the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia, where she led a music camp as part of a commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Melanie is an African American. I think Dr. King is smiling on her from heaven, maybe even singing along with this woman whose God-given vocation is to bring people together in song.

I met Melanie this morning at breakfast. She is here in New York City for the Trinity Institute, whose theme is bringing people together, especially blacks and whites. She will lead our music tonight at the Eucharist and before the start of our sessions over the next two days. She will have us on our feet singing. We will be together, even in our differences, singing the same song.

Melanie's song on her lips is overcoming divisions and forging connections, and it is a song that is especially important today in this country, where African-Americans are increasingly in peril simply because of the color of their skin. We talked about the tragedy of Ferguson, MO, which alas is repeated nearly every day. She told me about a 24-year-old black man who was shot and killed by a gang recruit as part of his demonic initiation ritual. "He was the one chosen to be killed," she said.

With music, Melanie is doing the work of Jesus. In the Gospel reading this morning from John, Jesus takes a drink of water from a Samaritan woman. In doing so, he breaks down a wall between a man and a woman and between a religious outsider and a devout Jew. She asks him for "living water," and he gives it to her. That water is connection between the two of them and connection between the woman of Sychar and God himself in Jesus.

Melanie’s music is filling people with living water. And they are singing.