Campus Ministry and Metronomes

2 Mar

Artists are going to be the metronomes of society. – Yoko Ono

“You are God’s work of art….” Ephesians 2:10 (Jerusalem Bible)

I play in two community bands.  One is a big band/dance band and one is a concert band for people 50 years old and older.  I enjoy both.  I initially played in each as a part of a personal wellness plan that included doing something that I enjoy doing just for fun.  That remains the case, but as is also the case I find many connection points between doing campus ministry and playing in these bands.

At a recent rehearsal following a particularly chaotic and discordant moment our director shouted out “Watch me! That’s what I’m up here waving my arms for! You can play the rhythms and the right notes (most of the time) but you’ve got to listen to your inner metronome!”

In our the jazz band, a guest director listened to us and tried working with us on a few pieces and noted that it seemed like our band had a particular tempo at which we played most of our songs.  I think part of it is that our rhythm section doesn’t sit together or even close.  Our bass player thinks the drummer plays too loud and therefore sits on the opposite side of the band.  The drummer is a little prone to dropping a beat from time to time.  Our keyboard player is the best musician and he often gets frustrated and plays louder!  I think we could use a really loud metronome that the director would use to start songs and keep us on the best beat for the song we are playing rather than the beat we each want to play.

I’m spending some time with the image of the metronome and ministry.  Is there a pulse/tempo to our ministry?   Is that tempo I lead with the one I like to play or the one our situation calls for?  Is there a way that worship becomes a place where we learn to hear the tempo of life in the spirit?  Does following God in the way of Jesus lead us to be like Yoko’s artists; metronomes of society helping bring in the Reign of God through justice and kindness and humbleness?

Though sometimes I would never believe it, the bands somehow manage to get back on beat and the music is actually pretty enjoyable.  To be engaged in campus ministry, working with students learning to hear the beat and the music wanting to emerge through them is even more enjoyable.

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David plays bass trombone in the Cedar Valley Big Band, is past chairperson of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Board and has served as the Campus Minister and Director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Northern Iowa for 16 years.  After graduating with a  BS in Education from Bowling Green and a MDiv from G-ETS, he has served  UMC congregations in the Iowa Conference since 1985.  Meeting his wife Jaymee in seminary, together they are parents of daughters Allyn and Magee.  Despite growing up in a campus ministry family, both have been involved in the campus ministry/religious life of their respective college and universities.

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