I am, officially, getting old.
It’s not the white hairs (although there’s a few of those making their way through) and it’s not the fact that the smile lines around my eyes and the worry lines on my forehead are rapidly approaching the point when they run into each other and can all just be classified as “wrinkles”. It’s not even the fact that when I forget to shave or iron my shirt nowadays I look less “devil-may-care” and more “scary hobo”.
It’s the music.
Cal teaches high school, and will occasionally play me some of her student’s favourite music. The reason I know I’m old is that it makes me want to rant.
“It’s wannabe, plastic, pre-packaged rebellion.” I tell Callie.
“There’s not a note out of place because they’ve run the vocals through a computer. And you can understand every word! What’s the point of that?”.
It is of course, because the young people of today are doing it all wrong. When you’re young, music should be loud and brash and occasionally out of tune. Singers should be so caught up in the song that they slur and occasionally forget the words. Because that’s how it was for me.
For me, a big part of being young was about going to dim smoky pubs with sticky floors and seeing bands playing loud music, some of which they seemed barely to have learned. It made me feel alive. Most of those dim, smoky pubs are pizza restaurants and poker-machine venues now. And the music that young people listen to is different. It talks about and to a different world, with different joys and wonders as well as different dangers.
I could force my 14 year old nephew to sit down and listen to some “real music”. I could probably even wait until the next time one of my old favourite bands came out and drag him to the gig. He’d do it. He’s very polite. But what would be the point? For him it would be like a trip to a crazy museum where grown adults unfathomably danced to ill-concieved tunes.
I wonder whether it might be the same in the church. Are we hoping that young people will make their home with us, be fed by the church as it fed us, find life in the church as we found it? Do we find it hard to understand when we see people living lives that seem to lack community, morality, faith in the way we understand them?
Just as my nephew is happily using music I don’t much like to provide a soundtrack to his life, is it possible that God might be engaging with people in ways we don’t understand? Is it possible that God is already working in people’s lives, and that by waiting and hoping for them to come to us, we’re denying the work that God is already doing?
What if we did it differently? What if we looked not for the signs of the worship, prayer life, or community that has fed us, but instead looked simply for worship, prayer and community? What if we found God was already there waiting for us to smile politely and jump on in?