Connected Dots

Dear Advent Pilgrims,

Yesterday I went for a drive that was motivated by a show on the radio. Here are my reflections on my Advent drive:

I was listening to Bill Ayres on E-Street Radio, the Bruce Springsteen station. Ayres was making some theological reflections on Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show, which has been extended through June in NYC. As Bruce shares his life’s story on stage, Ayres felt the overall theme of the show was “a  journey into the mystery.” Ayres played and discussed all the songs Springsteen uses in the show.

“The Catholic church did not teach me truth, they taught me rules and regulations, but not truth.Truth is learning to relate to mystery,” says Ayres. (Bruce was raised Catholic.)

Along with Harry Chapin, Bill Ayres started “why hunger.” Check out There is currently a hungerthon going on. You might want to  prayerfully consider some support.

He then played Springsteen's song “Promised Land.” Bill talked of how Bruce moves in the show from his dad's house to OUR FATHER'S HOUSE..(Bruce  had a difficult and challenged relationship with his earthly  father...Plug in whoever you want for the earthly person: coach, mother, boss, colleague, child, sibling.) The song suggests that it is not a destination, but the journey.

Bruce is known for his perseverance and desire to never quit. In the show, he documents how his career had multiple up’s and downs. It's about moving through failures and experiencing resurrections is this life time and learning you have the power of new life to try again.

Ayres spoke of when he saw the opening night performance on Broadway,--he saw the theological connections of Christ journeying with Springsteen. Of how Christ Jesus transformed Bruce from one place to another.

Ayres says TRUTH and Mystery is better learned from the philosopher Gabriel Marcel. Marcel taught that mystery is not something to be figured out, but rather something to be lived into. (How often do we want to figure it out? Verses live into the mystery?)

Bruce’s Broadway show is a journey “into the mystery “ according  to Ayres. It is a journey from the “conditional love “ that pleases another human being (like our earthly father), to living into the “unconditional love” of OUR Heavenly Father. He then played the song “Brilliant Disguise “ and made the point that we all wear disguises, many of them brilliant to allow us to navigate this world where love is too often “conditional.”

For Bruce, the companionship of friends and family are key to his journey. His wife Patty and Clarence Clemmons are key figures in the show. Though Clarence is now dead, he is referenced. Bruce devoted himself to being by Clarence side during his last week of life.

Patty is the only other performer in the show. She sings two songs. Bruce says “he would not of made it without her.” The songs “Long Walk Home “ and “The Rising “ are sung to represent the role of friends and family in his life.

Why hunger was founded to get at the root cause of hunger ---which is poverty—which has powerlessness at it's root. Bruce helped with funding for ”why hunger “in multiple ways.  Ayres told Bruce that Why Hunger would be operating in a closet if not for Bruce’s funding power and  Bruce told him “now we couldn’t have that could we...”

The song “Dancing in the Dark” is Bruce’s way of saying even in the face of  dark times, we still have power. The power to dance in the dark.  Isaiah 9:2 “a light shall shine in the darkness. And the darkness shall not overcome it..."

From her hospital room yesterday, Gloria Mitchell reminded me of this when she said, “we need to try some things so I can get better, what good does it do to sit and worry.”

…”can’t start a fire without a spark..." dancing in the dark.  Big things often begin quite small.

"…can’t start a fire if you’re worried about your little world falling apart”  dancing in the  dark. We see what we are looking for.

 “journey into the mystery”….that is what the show is all about…

Bruce refers to a concert as a “magic trick.” The arena transforms in ways only “magic” can provide. Ayres suggests that perhaps there is something more spiritual going on. The most frequently used commandment in all of scripture is “fear not.” Is the “magic” learning to manage our fear of failure, or even our fear of success?

A journey into the mystery.

From the his father’s house, Bruce grew up into OUR Father's House. Springsteen then ends his performance with the Lord’s Prayer…the OUR  Father….

I was reminded of Donald Miller's teaching in his book “To Own a Dragon.” If this topic has interest for you, I highly recommend the book.

The closing song, "Born to Run" is the one that really elevated Springsteen. We are "born to run" from the conditional ways of this world into the ‘unconditional love' of Christ's grace and mercy.

I heard this show come on the radio station XM “E-Street “  as I was pulling into my driveway. My friend Chip Coppola had told me he heard about the Broadway show (I believe on NPR) and that they spoke of the themes in some way. He told me I needed to press into it more. But I had no idea how impactful its message would be...I kept driving…past my home and onto Franktown. To Elizabeth and then to Kiowa……and a ways beyond. Seemed like the drive was where I was supposed to be...

Dots grew more connected for me as I figured out why my passion for Springsteen was so strong.  I don’t have the topics mentioned here or anything else all figured out, but now I “live into the mystery “ at a bit deeper level. Now I need to ponder and pray through the possibility of  if the indulgence of hearing Bruce perform this show live on Broadway for myself, versus living off the eloquence of Ayres' interpretation.

“Pheasant hunting is worth whatever you have to pay for it.” Earnest Hemingway. Keep that stewardship teaching in mind.

Prayers: For Meaders and all who mourn, for Gloria Mitchell and all in need to healing, for year end financial giving to GGCC and other nonprofit entities in the Kingdom of God, for Leadership and Followership. And for our Advent preparations for the coming of the King of Kings.

Still in one peace,

Pastor David J. Jensen

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