Pastoral Ponderings…April 2018

Dear God,

I just got my turntable repaired. There’s a word you don’t hear anymore: turntable.

When I left for college I grabbed a duffel bag of clothes and hopped in my ’68 American Motors Javelin with the 290 cubic inch 4-speed. When I got to school I realized I was missing one important item: tunes. Eventually through work-study jobs I was able to become the proud owner of a one-piece stereo. I had it made: a great car, a stereo, and enough money for an occasional Big Mac.

But the fine audio era was coming into vogue by my junior year. The cheap all-in-one stereo I had sounded just like that: a cheap, all-in-one stereo. The new emphasis was on clarity of sound and I loved what some of my friends had. I was hooked. I started out by buying an amplifier and tuner (i.e., “radio”) and two 36” free standing Polk Audio speakers with amazing clarity. It was all pretty pricy stuff, so it took a bit to save the money. After that I got a turn-table followed by a twin cassette deck. Eventually (and because CDs were now used rather than cassette tapes) I picked up a CD player. All the equipment was high-end Yamaha equipment but it was worth the scrimping. I was set!

And what goes along with all of that? Records…lots of them! Then cassettes…lots of them! And then CDs…lots of them! I not only had a lot of money in my audio equipment, but in the music itself. And so then what happened…? Everything went digital. Now with rows of records, cassettes, and CDs I found out nothing was necessary except a device the size of a small flip paper notepad and a 3” speaker that would blow the doors off my 36” Polk Audio speakers. I’ve officiated at outdoor weddings where a guy had a small cylindrical unit the size of a salami that he set his iPhone into that provided music for the entire area. Amazing!

So, you may ask, what am I doing with all the stereo equipment? Mostly nothing. Most of it hasn’t been used in years. HOWEVER, I recently decided to get my turntable fixed so I could listen to some records and dig out my old Supertramp (the best band ever!), Steely Dan, and Cat Stevens records. It’s almost always true…if you hang on to something long enough it will come back into style (with the exception of Ford Pintos).

I was a little taken aback a few years ago when Brianna told me that she used some of her hard-earned money and bought a record player when she was attending Boston College. I was frustrated that she would spend her money on something like a record play…until I remembered a kid in college who decided he would buy his own electronics to hear the best of vinyl records. Man, I sure have a short memory at times!

So why do I bring all this up? Well, because it’s all about listening with clarity to truth.

The world around me is filled with loud noises and people who make loud noises. It’s become unkind in so many ways, and people have forgotten how to live with, disagree with, and talk with one another. Despite the best communication equipment in the world, equipment that blows the doors off my prized Yamaha components, we’ve lost our desire to hear with clarity the words that come at us that can move us to be the kind of people you would desire us to be.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said Make America Kind Again, and I remember my good friend at the wedding for her grandson when she was asked the secret to marriage. Her response was simply, “Be kind to one another.” Her words didn’t require expensive equipment in order to hear the clarity and truth within them.

As I thought of all my equipment (which Bri and I are blowing the mothballs off of) I am aware that nothing will help me hear with more clarity than the important words you’ve given to us through scripture: Jesus, sacrifice, love, forgiveness, faith, and grace. In this season of resurrection and new life I would ask that you help me understand Easter as a time to listen to you with greater clarity and to listen to others with the ears of kindness.

Thanks for listening. I love you. By the way, do you like Supertramp?

Dan