Notes from Giant Steps, Part 1 (@HolmanUMC @changingsame #jazzforthesoul)

Jazz-for-the-Soul-GIANT-STEPS-September-2015-1-1024x1024Every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, our church leads a non-traditional worship experience, Thursday Night Live: Jazz for the Soul.  I’ve had the privilege of working with this ministry for the last two years as we explored in worship the jazz as sacred music with food, art, spoken word and preaching.

One of the joys in planning worship has been the creative connection of biblical stories with examples from popular culture.   The past year alone, we’ve correlated the scriptures with clips from Nina Simone, new soul trio KING, Patti Labelle, Gregory Porter and Kid President to show how God’s spirit speaks to us from texts from ancient to contemporary.

Last Thursday, we returned from summer break and began a two-part worship series themed Giant Steps.  This series is in part a tribute to the music of legendary jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane (whose album Giant Steps is a certified classic) as we explore what it means to take giant steps of faith in God.

Our scripture for the evening was 1 Samuel 17:37, which says: 

“The Lord,” David added, “who rescued me from the power of both lions and bears, will rescue me from the power of this Philistine.”

“Go!” Saul replied to David. “And may the Lord be with you!” (Common English Bible)

For the evening’s message, I shared how we are able to make “giant steps” of faith in God when we know that God has already made “giant steps” for us.  In the familiar biblical story of David and Goliath, David makes a “giant step” of faith to fight Goliath, because he testifies to what God had done for him already.  Our faith in God is not a guarantee to win the battle, because the journey doesn’t always go as we expect or plan.  Our faith, however, is an assurance that God’s power is with us every step of the way, leading us through it in the way of the everlasting.

Of the clips we shared that night was an animated sketch of a 1966 interview with John Coltrane where he explains Giant Steps and how though there are forces that bring suffering, he wanted to be a force for good:

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We also watched an animated trailer for the graphic novel King David by black American cartoonist Kyle Baker.

I love how his interpretation of the story sees the fight between David and Goliath as more difficult that we typically recall.  For Baker, David’s first stone misses Goliath and he must scramble to get away from the giant’s attack.  This rendering suggests that while battling Goliath may be hard, with faith, God gives us the courage, cunning and persistence to stay in fight!

Giant Steps, Part 2 is coming on Thursday, September 24 at 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.  Join us as we take giant steps together!

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