Bible Jazz

About a year or so ago, I realized that I was living a frantic life and I desperately wanted to slow down. What really caught my attention was that music was becoming a background noise for me, and not something that I intentionally sat down and enjoyed like I used to. So Sarah purchased a record player for me. I absolutely love it! You can’t take the record player in the car with you. You can’t put it in your pocket to listen to music while you cut the grass. If you are going to listen to a record, you’re going to sit down and do just that. Listen.

One of my favorite records has been an old Dave Brubeck album I found in an awesome record shop downtown. I could sit and listen to jazz all day. It’s such great artistry! That record contains a song called “Take Five,” which I’ve always loved deeply.

I could listen to it for hours! But then a few weeks after I found that record, I found another one by George Benson, which actually contained the same song.

Now clearly these are the same song. But they have wildly different sounds! These two artists looked at the same source material, and did very different things with it.

Imagine I asked you which version was the correct version. What would you say? You would think I was crazy, right? Two artists came at the same material and made an interpretation, and both did it right.

Does such a possibility exist with the Bible? I believe it does.

So many people approach the Bible as if there’s one right way to read it. We assume that there is a correct interpretation, and that all other interpretations must be wrong. This is kind of a flat way to read the Bible. It doesn’t allow us the freedom to hear new ideas and fresh hearings from each other. We can be caught in fear, crippled by the idea that there is a single right way to read the text, and maybe we don’t know what that is. This fear becomes so large that many people just leave their Bibles in the corner of their house, unused and unread.

What if reading the Bible was less like getting the answers right and more like making jazz?

What if you and I could read the Scriptures, and see it in two completely different correct ways? Sure, there are wrong ways to play the song. If someone slammed their fist on a piano and claimed that they were performing “Take Five,” we might think them a little nuts. In much the same way, if someone read John 3:16 and assumed it meant that we were not to eat bacon, we might have some questions. But if two people could see the same text, and come to different ideas on how to spread love and peace and grace, wouldn’t we all want to gather around and hear that concert?

So friends, as we wrap up this series on the Bible, my encouragement to you is to join the band. Read. Dig deep. Come to some conclusions. Ask some deep questions. And know that we are all simply trying to make jazz. Know that the community of faith being in conversation about the scripture can be as beautiful as listening to a jazz record on a cool fall evening.

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