Re-tuning the Instrument of Faith
One summer night back in seminary, a bunch of us went to a Leo Kottke concert down at the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan. It was a warm evening, there was a pleasant breeze off the water and folks in the crowd seemed to be in a good mood. All the better when Leo came out and started to play. He is a 12-string guitarist and he spent the next couple of hours just sitting there, playing music for us--one song after another. Some tunes were instrumental, others with words that told stories. Here's the rub...I don't remember him ever changing guitars during his set. If a tune was in a different key, then he would re-tune the guitar (all twelve strings) while doing a little patter/set up for the next song in the line up. Not only was he that good, tuning while talking, but he was doing it across twelve strings. No small feat, I can assure you.
As I read the passages for this morning, I keep going back to that evening and my sense of awe as I watched a master at work. It wasn't just his playing that impressed me, it was also his ability to re-tune his instrument on the fly. Whereas Leo just had hi guitar to deal with, the people in today's readings are re-tuning their lives and the lives of the people in their community so that all can live into a more finely tuned life in God. They are doing what Leo did, re-tuning the instrument of faith so that they can play and sing a new song that glorifies God and gives thanks while at the same time works to correct any dissonance we might have within ourselves, or any that might dwell between the members of the assembled.
That's impressive, master work. Still, we have to be willing to forgive, or rather forbear, the fact that Paul stumbles over the role of women...or that Nehemiah's grand corrections also exclude the willing faithful who lack the proper papers that would legitimize their role in the restoration.
Even a master of the guitar breaks a string once in a while. We cannot expect more from the masters of the faith, can we?