Saturday, June 4, 2011

Church as Global Cover

Who would have ever thought that a sampling of amateur musicians from all over the world mixed by a sound artist could make such beautiful and moving music? And, to top the amazement, the piece is a remake of a beloved Rolling Stones classic. William Goodman and Playing for Change accomplished just such a musical feat. The Rolling Stones classic, Gimme Shelter, performed by a mix of professional and amateur musicians from all over the world by the international music collective has brought tears to the eyes and goose bumps to the flesh of millions of listeners—compliments of You Tube, of course. Check it out at or

Listening and watching this video I could not help but think about the church, the kingdom of God. I am not talking about the buildings or the denominations but the incredibly diverse group of people from all over the world who claim the name of Christ and therefore are connected by the Spirit of God. This is the church Jesus inaugurated and spoke about. This is the church that will celebrate almost 2000 years of life on June 12, Pentecost Sunday.

As I watched the Playing for Change video of Gimme Shelter, I was amazed at the variety of people and instruments. The people looked very ordinary and some of the instruments were homemade and some were worn and unimpressive. It reminded me so much of the church I serve. It is full of a great diversity of very extraordinary and ordinary people. And they are from all over the world. We have Filipinos, Mexicans, Guatrmalans, Puerto Ricans, Taiwanese, Venezuelans, and some Swedes and Norwegians as well! None of us are famous for anything or have any notoriety to speak of, we are all very common instruments, some very worn and unimpressive by the world’s standards. But these dear people are making music that is beautiful and moving. They are being led by the Spirit of God to be a church that is very different than most. The older dominantly Anglo members have given full support to the transformation of the congregation so that it is a accurate reflection of the neighborhood. Once a upper middle class professional gathering, it is now filled with single parents, immigrants from many countries, ex-cons, unemployed, and every other common every day walk of life. Together they make beautiful music. They work together to make a safe place for our neighborhood children to have recreation, art and music, and homework support after school. Together they help to repair and rebuild one another’s homes. Together they provide a safe place for someone just out of prison after 30 years of incarceration to find shelter, work, and community. Together they are struggling through very challenging economic times in order to remain faithful to an unusual mission for unusual times. This local congregation is a “global cover” mixed by the Spirit of God. And when combined with the church universal, all across the globe, the music produced cannot be captured on any media no matter how technologically advanced. The global church—ordinary and differently gifted people of every tribe and nation—is the extraordinary symphony directed by God that is marching ever so slowly but certainly toward a new world order. Though Family Radio had the timing wrong. The truth remains. God in Christ is building his kingdom and nothing will prevail against it. And one day, when the Good Lord determines the time is right, all those who claim the name of Christ—the Church—will be gathered singing a global cover song that will ring out for eternity. I, for one, can hardly wait!

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