First—A Very Special Announcement
Next Sunday (May 31) Kate, Ella and Lilly Buchanan’s grandfather, John, will be the homilist at our 10:30 Mass. The Reverend John Buchanan, besides being a proud grandfather, is the pastor emeritus of Fourth Presbyterian Church at Michigan and Chestnut, father of Andy, father-in-law of Mary McMahon, and-- most notably-- husband of Sue Buchanan. John is also editor/publisher of Christian Century Magazine and author of four books. I’m delighted to welcome John and Sue back to St. Matthias. Next Sunday will be a wonderful opportunity for us all to hear one the country’s best and most respected ministers of the Gospel. I know you will welcome John and Sue warmly.
Second—Old friends would say that I’m a bad golfer. Really old friends would say I was a bad artist. I still play a round of golf occasionally and I’m worse than ever. And in Kindergarten I sculpted a clay rabbit, of sorts, and painted it green, at least my mother liked it…I think. I’m not a bad musician, however, because to be a bad musician I would had to have made music at least once and no one who ever has heard me try would mistake the resulting noise for music. So, I am not a bad musician. I am no musician, whatsoever.
I do enjoy great music and I am in awe of musicians who make great music—for example, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra does a good job. Recently, I watched the opening notes of a symphony played ever so softly by the bass fiddles, alone. I could see the musicians’ bow’s inch their way across the strings but in the silent hall I heard nothing, nothing. Instead I felt through the soles of my shoes a tremor—a very slight sort of rumble. That amazed me; a half dozen strings drawn taut and vibrating seemed to make the whole building vibrate in sympathy. Yet, I heard nothing.
The basic physics of a bass fiddle seems simple. The vibration of strings is transferred through the bridge to the top and back of the wood body which in turn sets the surrounding air to pulse and shudder with invisible waves. You can see the musician draw the bow and you probably could touch the instrument and feel it vibrate but without the surrounding air, which cannot be seen or touched, there is no sound, no music, no tremor underfoot. I admire the musicians and their instruments but the air I never notice.
Today is Pentecost, a seriously major feast celebrating a gift; Christ’s promise to send the Holy Spirit is fulfilled today. Yet, where? Why? Really?
God in Christ is a human being. Human beings can be seen, touched, known—at least in our imaginations if not in person. But the Holy Spirit? Unseen, untouchable. And…unknowable? Not even imaginable?
Perhaps, just as we swim in an ocean of air yet only attend to it when we sense its movement ever so subtle and “feel” the music, so it may be with God, the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we are musicians, our lives our instruments, but for all our efforts without that unnoticed ocean of the divine in which we live and move and have our being—no music. We don’t know the Spirit in the same way fish don’t know water—that is, until the fish finds itself unexpectedly on the shore; then it knows water by its sudden and rather disturbing absence.
Today is Pentecost. Notice the Spirit in which we swim. Make music.