I was at a wonderful, uplifting gathering in Hyde Park yesterday. A racially and culturally mixed group of thousands sang and raised their arms, pointing excitedly at the sky, joining in with the songs they knew, smiling and shouting affirmation when something good or that they agreed with happened. The music was varied, even Amazing Grace on an old church organ.
The event was Neil Young's blistering set at Hard Rock Calling, a two hour energy filled finale to a day that included Fleet Foxes, Seasick Steve, Ben Harper and the Pretenders.
It was great, but it held no lessons for the church except one, I think. And that was not that we need to erect stages in fields and ape the world's greatest music form (rock and roll) at big gatherings. It was a much smaller thought. Simply this: we need to be people who are far more life-affirming than we traditionally are, much more aware of the grace washing around the world in all sorts of unexpected places.
I saw this particularly in the set from Fleet Foxes where the soaring music and tight harmonies are wedded to lyrics that are full of wonder at the world we live in, open to experience, curious and inquiring. When was the last time you experienced that in church?