Mmm…Grilled Cheese and Pastrami…..
One of my favorite George Thorogood songs is “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”, which is really a combination of two songs recorded 10 years earlier by John Lee Hooker. Based on it’s early success, I’m surprised it hasn’t been successfully remade again! Thorogood’s version has a steady driving beat, and while he might be ‘singing’ words about his troubles, the song itself doesn’t sound sorrowful.
Sunday in church, someone was persistently calling the church during the sermon, and it distracted me. The preacher was talking about baptism, how it ties to 1 Peter, and about more detailed renunciations from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (I think). All the things to renounce, or reject, were things common in our society today; thinks like greed, envy, anger, pride, and deception. The point was that they were gateways to breaking the Ten Commandments. Like I said, I was distracted, so maybe I missed the point of this sermon.
But, the imagery I did get might take a long time to shake from my mind. Somehow, as I was wondering “Who would call the church repeatedly during a worship service?” I not only started hearing the renunciations in musical form but also even envisioned some of the music video as well!
The preacher is in his white robe and light blue stole, leaning over the congregation from his pulpit in such an exaggerated an animated manner that one can’t help but wonder how he doesn’t fall forward into the front few rows of worshipers. Excuse me, front two pews, because no one sits up front these days….
I can hear Thorogood’s driving guitar, the syncopated drum rhythm, the thumping bass. All the men in the church are dressed like 50’s punks – the “Road Rockers” from New Jersey the preacher talked about early in the sermon. The women in period-correct dresses, even a few Poodle Skirts. Picture what it would look like if Grease had a church scene with a blues song. The guy singing the song is rambling on, probably mid-point of Thorogood’s version where he’s gettin’ drunk and feelin’ mellow:
“I’m sittin’ there. In the pew. I’m gettin’ churched. I’m feelin holy.
I’m readin’ scripture, I’m prayin’ prayers, I’m singin’ songs. I look up at the preacher, now here comes the sermon.”
And then the preacher howls:
“Look Man! Lend Your Ear!”
I fix my eyes on him, and say “So whatchou want?”
And he soulfully growls…
“Renounce envy, renounce deceit, renounce fear!” as the guitar walks down for the next verse.
OK – not the most divine inspiration I’ve ever had, but you know what? Church can be fun. We’re called to be joyful. We need to find more blues songs, and hip hop, and dance songs to play as we worship. And that’s how Sunday’s sermon wrapped up: When we baptize a child, we need to engage in that child’s life and not wait until they hit church school age and hope they come back. In a sense, we all have have a role in raising our youth – not just the mothers, fathers, and family. You, I, and the Road Rockers too. Hey – Maybe I was listening!
Now I feel the need to go listen to “Dance!” by David Crowder, “Awesome God” by Fred Hammond, and of course a little bit of George and The Destroyers. “Look man, lend your ear!”