Thursday, December 12, 2013

I've Got Rhythm

(Random thoughts for Sunday's Contemplative Service)
Since my earliest days of music lessons I've thought a lot about rhythm. As a musician I"m taught to listen and match rhythm and tempo with other people. Playing violin in an orchestra meant that a good sense of beat and awareness of everyone around was vital. There is a certain level of embarrassment that comes from singing or playing in a group and unintentionally giving yourself a solo because you came in early, played to long, or were slightly slower than everyone else.

When I got to university I started messing around with cross rhythms, multiple time signatures and multiple simultaneous beats.....some people experimented with drugs, I experimented with Minimalism. Imagine counting 1,2,3, 1,2,3 and clapping on every 1 while someone else counts 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 and claps on 1 simultaneously to get a rough idea of what I"m talking about.

Life seems to move in rhythmic patterns. There is a pulse, a beat to different seasons of the year. It feels like the tempo of life is speeding up at the moment, making us move faster and faster until Christmas gets here. Along with the faster pace also comes an expectation of cheerfulness.

You'd better not pout, you'd better not cry, 
You'd better not shout I'm telling you why. 
Santa Claus is coming to town.

When I was 14 my grandmother passed away just before Christmas. While the rest of the world moved onward with lights, decorations and parties, my parents planned a funeral.

Good christian friends rejoice!
With heart and soul and voice.

While my friends joyfully wrapped presents, I was faced with the present I had purchased and wrapped for my Grandmother...and I didn't know what to do with it.

Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn king!

That was the last thing I wanted to do.

When the rhythm of my life feels out of step with everyone else around me it adds to my discomfort. The Christmas my Grandmother passed away my parents tried to make Christmas happen 'as usual'. It felt hollow and disingenuous, lake a game of let's pretend that lasted over the holiday season.

I've learned over the years to honor my internal sense of rhythm. Most years I cook a large full English Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings for friends. This year I've chosen not too. I can't point to a particular event that has prompted this change, I'm just aware that my internal rhythm is dictating something different.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I love the way the Message translation says it:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. There is a rhythm that comes from God that is unique to each one of us...because each one of us is unique. Sometimes my rhythm will match the tempo of the world around, and sometimes it won't.

There are rhythms that come naturally to us and others that make us feel like we are always a beat behind.
There are rhythms that fit naturally with the world around and others that feel misplaced.

There are burdens that get placed upon us and others that we choose to carry.
There are burdens we are afraid to pick up and others that we afraid to release.

Into the midst of all this weight and noise Jesus offers us rest. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Whatever is going on in your life right now is o.k.

Joyful celebration.
Quiet mourning.
Crowded parties.

The strong rhythm of Ravel's Bolero is beautiful....and so is the random sound of a wind chime.

Where ever you are right now, Jesus offers you his rest. He offers the unforced rhythms of grace and invites you to dance.

What is the rhythm of your life right now?
Does it compliment or conflict with the rhythm of your external world?

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