A few years ago I took over as director of a choir, stepped into my first rehearsal with them, and after some introductions, got to work. We learned notes, rhythms, and words; and I took extra time to work on technique and help them understand my particular quirks and how I like to direct. By the end of the evening we were making beautiful music and felt pretty good about what we could do together.
When we were finished, someone raised their hand and said, “we haven’t sounded this good in years, and you didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know – what did you do that brought our sound together?”
The answer was fairly simple. There are certain things in music that are spelled out – notes and rhythms are marked clearly on the page and leave very little room for interpretation. The words are there, too, but this is where it gets muddy. In most adult choirs there are people from all over the country, and they pronounce words differently. The difference I had made in rehearsal was getting people to work toward pronouncing their vowels the same way.
What if all of our interactions could be as simple as agreeing on a vowel? What if there were just one thing we could agree on to make everything in the world a little more beautiful?
When we look at our social media or the news it is easy to get discouraged. There is so much bad news and it is hard to believe we have friends or family members who think and feel so differently from us. We might feel like we’ve lost people who were close to us.
In John 6:37-40, Jesus says, “anyone who comes to me, I will never drive away” and “I should lose nothing of all [God] has given me.” Jesus has been given all the world to care for, and he will not be separated from anyone.
What is the one thing Jesus brought us that keeps us from being separated God?
And yes, it is really hard to love everyone. But just like the vowels in our singing, we can see our interactions through the lens of Jesus’ love and we can work toward asking ourselves, “if I love this person, how should I treat them?” What should a disagreement look like when we know that we love someone as a fellow human being and not just as a faceless avatar on a web site? How do we treat a stranger we pass on the street if we look at them with love instead of fear? What does it look like when people who are different from us, whose culture or language we don't understand and whose motives we can only speculate or imagine, are just fellow children of God?
We might not agree on everything. But we can work toward a way of loving each other so that disagreements, culture, and fear don't have to divide us.