Title: WBB, Faithfulness and “This is My Story”
Location: Wycliffe College Chapel
Start Time: 7:22
Dear WBB friends:
“Straight, No Chaser” is arguably one of the most important jazz albums ever recorded. Here we meet the piano virtuosity of Thelonious Monk at one of his finest moments. And yet, in the middle of the album we find a song that runs a scant one minute and forty seven seconds: “This is my story, this is my song.”
You might already be humming the tune because you recognize the reference to the chorus of Fanny Crosby’s classic hymn, “Blessed Assurance”:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long.
But there is something wrong with this track. Upon first listening it sounds more like an eight year old at her first recital. The piece is played haltingly, tentatively. There are mistakes, even a moment of dissonance. Could this be Thelonious Monk?
Of course, the answer is, yes, this is the great jazz master. But Monk plays the piece with the lack of assurance of an eight year old precisely because he lacks that assurance.
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.”
Well, maybe Monk isn’t so sure.
“This is my story, this is my song.”
The great artist isn’t at all convinced that this is his story, that this is his song.
I don’t pretend to know why Monk struggled with the faith of his youth, or why he felt it important to include this statement on “Straight, No Chaser.” But it isn’t all that hard to empathize with his struggle. There is, after all, a lot of counter-evidence to this story of blessed assurance in the fractured, broken and disappointed stories of much of our lives.
And if you’ve been paying attention at all to Paul’s letter to the Romans over the last few weeks, you will see that the apostle himself can pile up the counter-evidence. I mean, which story is it that we can sing of with such assurance when our lives bear all the marks of sin that Paul has been relentlessly addressing in these opening chapters of the letter?
Well, the time for good news has finally come. While the apostle told us right at the beginning that he “is not ashamed of the gospel” of Jesus Christ, now he begins to unpack just exactly what the good news is all about.
And if I were to put it in a nutshell, it’s this: in the face of our faithlessness, we meet the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Because this one man was faithful, because this one man embodied the faithfulness of God (which is at the very core of who God is!), and because this one man demonstrated what covenantal faithfulness was all about, thereby demonstrating what it means to be most authentically human, there is a path opened to us beyond the dead end of our own sinfulness.
There are lots of songs to sing, lots of stories to believe and to have as foundational to our lives. At Wine Before Breakfast we sing songs about and to Jesus, the faithful one.
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!” Maybe you can’t sing that song with any more assurance than could Thelonious Monk. That’s alright. Some of us can, and we’ll sing it for you tomorrow morning.
So whether you are blessedly assured or deeply confused come on out to Wine Before Breakfast in the morning.
Rebekka King will be preaching (courageous lady!). David Julien will be breaking the bread and pouring the wine. Deb Whelan has written the prayer litany. The Bandhood-of-all-believers will be playing Fanny Crosby, Bruce Cockburn, John Newton and Sinead O’Connor (does it get more eclectic than this?).
And!! And we’ll be praying prayers of blessing over Bethany Osborne and her beloved Ed Miedema in joyful anticipation of their wedding this Saturday.
Rich fare, my friends, rich fare indeed. Come, eat, drink and believe.
Wine Before Breakfast Wycliffe Chapel Tuesday firstname.lastname@example.org