The Joy of Our Desiring
This "flash mob" of the U.S. Air Force Band at the Smithsonian is good fun. In the spirit of Advent, I thought to link to it as my BLOG this month. As great as it is to watch, it also raises a couple of ideas for me. One is a delightful picture of Advent and it's hope. The other is about the little paradoxes with which we live.
The first is just how much like the feeling of faith this is. We walk around living life like all the world around, and yet we hold inside ourselves an awareness that there's a song of beautiful praise and joy always just about to break out in the world. God is always here, ready to stop us up short, move our hearts, shape our imagination, give us a new melody to sing—even while we're just going about our business. The question is whether we'll notice or not, and what we'll hear, and how we'll let it change things. That's what this time of year should feel like, I think.
Second is maybe a bit more controversial, even though I think actually less radical than my first idea. It's the interesting questions raised by the fact that it's the Air Force band. What are we to do with that? Is that a good thing, underscoring those parts of our national values that are rooted in Christian ethics and piety? Is that a bad thing, forcing non-Christian musicians to play sacred music or overly identifying church and state? I know that I love it. I just don't know quite how to think about it. Someone from, say, a predominantly Muslim country would understandably infer from the fact that the Air Force band is playing and singing a Christian hymn proves that the American army is a Christ's army. I, for one, don't want to say that. I prefer to believe that even while we defend certain Christian values we, as a nation, are also critiqued by those same values. The church certainly does more than uphold. It also undoes, and recreates, and humbles.
And maybe that's exactly why this whole thing is so interesting. It's the very ambiguity with which we live—wanting something new and beautiful and life changing while living within all the difficulties and ambiguities of our lives. That's Advent, isn't it? Mary and Joseph slogging to Bethlehem, with hope for relief and yet within the realities of their day. Making their way. "The joy of our desiring . . ."