Friday, July 20, 2018

Springfield Today, July 25, 2017

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Blog

Good Moanin’ Springfieldians,

I am absolutely convinced that there is something within you and me  – something deep within each person – that causes us to long, to have this overriding desire, to live a life of significance and purpose.  We want to make a difference, in some way.

And when we’re not living that kind of life, either we make excuses why we’re not, or we get depressed, or angry; or we look for someone to blame; or we look for things to fill that void, we look for something to entertain us – so we don’t have to think about the life we’re living or not living.

So we go shopping, we buy the latest toys, and we’re distracted for a while.

Or we throw ourselves into our job and say, “My career – that’s what’s going to give me some kind of satisfaction.”

Or we start looking at our relationships and say, it’s because I’m not happy with this person, I’m bored because of them – that’s why I’m not satisfied with my life.

Or we self-medicate to try mask the unhappiness, or the discontentment, or the fact that we hate our life – so we turn to the bottle or drugs or pornography – all in attempt to make us forget the life we feel were missing out on.

And it really doesn’t take all that long, before we find ourselves singing that song Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes – “Meaningless, meaningless everything is meaningless.”… “Meaningless, meaningless everything is meaningless.”

Well, now that I’ve got you all depressed let me tell you a story.  It’s a true story.  It sounds like an urban legend, but it’s been researched and tracked down and found to be true.  Ray Hofman gave me a book quite a while ago, and he told me to read the 13th chapter first, which I did – and I haven’t been able to get away from the story told in that chapter, even though it’s been a number of years.

The story is about the impact of one nameless, homeless street person has had on people more than 25 years after his death.

The story involves Gavin Bryars, who is one of England’s leading musicians and composers.  In 1971, Bryars agreed to help his friend, Alan Powers, with the audio aspects of a documentary film Powers was making about street people.  The filming took place in the area around London’s Waterloo Station.  Powers filmed various people living on the streets, catching with the camera’s eye their daily rituals, trials, and joys.  Some were obviously drunk, some mentally disturbed, some very articulate, and some apparently incomprehensible in their speech.

As Bryars made his way through the rough audio and video footage, he became aware of a constant undercurrent, a repeating sound that always accompanied the presence of one older man, who kept showing up in the footage.  At first, he said, the sound seemed like muttered gibberish.  But after removing the background street noise and cleaning up the audiotape, Bryars discovered that old man was actually singing.

Now ironically, the footage of this old man and his muttered song didn’t make the cut for this documentary.  But the filmmaker’s loss was Bryars’ gain.  He took the rejected audiotape and just couldn’t escape the haunting sounds of this homeless, nameless man. He knew he had to do something with it.

So, he did some research on his own into who this homeless person might be.  From the film crew, Bryars learned that this street beggar didn’t ever drink, but neither did he engage others in conversation.  His speech was almost impossible to understand, but his demeanor was always sunny.  Though old and alone, filthy and homeless, he had this certain playfulness about him.  He took delight in teasing the film crew by swapping hats with them.  But what distinguished this old man from the other street people was his song.  The song he sung under his breath was a simple, repetitive Sunday School-like tune, but for him it was his mantra.  He would sit and quietly sing it, uninterrupted, for hours on end.

These are the words he sung over and over again:  “Jesus’ blood never failed me yet…Never failed me yet… Jesus’ blood never failed me yet…There’s one thing I know… For He loves me so…”

            The song’s final line fed into its first line, starting the tune over, and then over and over again, without ceasing, he’d kept singing it.  The man’s weak, old, untrained voice never wavered from pitch, never went flat, never changed key.  The simple intervals of the tune were perfectly maintained for however long he sang.

As a musician Bryars was fascinated. He began thinking of ways he could arrange and orchestrate around the constant, repeated lines the old man sang.

One day, while playing the tape as background to other work, Bryars left the door to his studio open while he ran downstairs to get a cup of coffee.  When he returned several minutes later, he found a normally buzzing office environment eerily stilled.  The old man’s quiet, quavery voice had leaked out of the recording room and transformed the entire office area.  Under the compelling and mesmerizing sound of this stranger’s voice, and office of busy professionals had grown hushed.  Those who were still moving around walked slowly, almost reverently about the room.  Many more had taken their seats and were motionless at their desks, transfixed by the voice.  More than a few were silently weeping, tears cascading down their faces,

Bryars said he was stunned.  Although not a believer himself at the time, he couldn’t help but be confronted by the mysterious spiritual power of this unadorned voice.  Sitting in the midst of an urban wilderness, this John-the-Baptist voice touched a lonely, aching place that lurks in the human heart offering an unexpected message of faith and hope in the midst of the darkest, most blighted night.

Soon Bryars himself started yearning for the confidence and faith this old man’s song celebrates.  He began to face what it means to be homeless and alone even when sitting in the midst of our families.  He vowed to respect this homeless person by creating a recording that would celebrate and accentuate his simple message – that no matter what one’s condition, Jesus “loves me so…”

It took him, England’s leading contemporary composer, years to create and produce what he felt was a proper accompaniment to this homeless person’s song – but now it has been heard by thousands and thousands, and lives are being changed because of this simple song.  The old man died shortly after the film crew left his street-home.  It was almost as if, when somebody finally heard his song, he could leave for a better place.


You see, I am so intrigued by this man’s story – I’m intrigued by how God is using his song still today. But I’m also intrigued because I know everyone of us – you, me, everyone of us – who have encountered Jesus Christ as Savior – has a broken song, a quivery voice, a frail pitch – that could absolutely change the lives of those around us – if we would simply be willing to sing it.

And it’s only when we’re willing to song our song, empowered by the Spirit that we will find that longing to live a life of significance fulfilled.

This has nothing to do with us doing more and trying harder; this has nothing to do with results; this has nothing to do with how talented we are, or how gifted we are, or how much we own, or how much we have, or what others think about us.  It has nothing to do with the position we have, the power we have, or how respected we might be – but it has everything to do with our willingness to simply sing our song – and how God can then take our feeble attempts and do something astounding and miraculous through us, how He can take something – that others don’t even see the value of, and do the miraculous – and the only plausible explanation is God.


What You Need to Know…

A Huge Thank You

to Kathy Hedden and her team of VBS volunteers!! You’re willingness to come and give of your time and talents have a made the difference in the lives of children.

Youth Back to School Bash – Friday August 11 at Sky Zone and Knight’s Drive in Movie.  More info to come!

Church Picnic – Sunday, August 27, 5:00 – 8:00 PM.  More later.

Karate – Mondays and Thursdays at 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays at 9:00 a.m.

Wednesday Night Kids! – Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.

Velocity Student Ministries – Wednesdays from 6:15 – 7:45 p.m.

Brenden Gardens Bible Study – Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.

Open Gym – Saturdays at 7:00 p.m.

Connect Groups – Sundays at 6:00 p.m.


Please Pray For:

Fran Herwehe

Carol Tandy

TJ Ballog

Betty Colvin

Amy Earl

Hettie Kinman

Janet Gille

Janet Castleman

Mary Bishop’s grandson, Bannock Galloway, has cystic fibrosis

Julie Duncan – Aunt Joanne Boyce diagnosed with lung cancer

Abby Heppe – sister-in-law, Liz, has liver and gall bladder cancer

Lucas Gebhardt – medical testing to be done…keep praying

Charles Camp

Wilbur Hunt Ross – Geoff & Jody’s brother-in-law has blood clots and more colon surgeries

Frank Pickett – battling cancer

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