First United Methodist Church – Omaha
Rev. Kent H. Little
September 16, 2018
Scripture: Psalm 98:4-9
Sermon: “Harmony”

Pondering music today…What is your favorite style of music? Favorite artist or singer? Favorite band? Favorite song?

Researchers identified what they say are the oldest-known musical instruments in the world. Found in a Cave in Germany, the flutes, made from bird bone and mammoth ivory, come from a cave in southern Germany, which contains early evidence for the occupation of Europe by modern humans – Homo sapiens.

Scientists used carbon dating to show that the flutes were between 42,000 and 43,000 years old.

However, other scientists have In July 1995, Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Turk discovered a bone carving in the northwest region of Slovenia. The carving, named the Divje Babe flute, features four holes that Canadian musicologist Bob Fink determined could have been used to play four notes of a diatonic scale. Researchers estimate the flute’s age to be 67,000 years old, making it the oldest known musical instrument and the only musical instrument associated with the Neanderthal culture.1

Music, in some form I would posit, has been around since the beginning… even before we humankind showed up on the scene. There is music and rhythm in the very creation around us. I enjoyed the 2007 movie, August Rush, about a young musical prodigy who was searching for his parents through music. “Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind, in the air, in the light. It’s all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do… is listen. You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.”2

Music is something we carry with us.

I am more confident I will remember song lyrics from the 60’s and 70’s than remembering what I walked in the kitchen for.

A note I saw on social media the other day. I don’t know about you, but it is true for me. There is something about music that resides deep in who we are, shapes who we are, and remembers who we are.

Music is a time machine. It can take us to places we have only dreamed of, it can take us back to specific times and places like no other media can do. I can be listening in my car and hear a song I haven’t heard since I was in high school and still know the lyrics word for word. But music is more than just something we carry with us. We are immersed in music… kind of what the August Rush lines were… it is in everything we seen… known and unknown. From today’s daily reading of Science of Mind…

“…the science of quantum physics points to the knowledge that a solid… say a table… is really a whirling mass of atoms and subatomic particles vibrating as a contained energetic field. The “spell of solidity” [finite?] that has held us has been broken, and we know our world is more fluid, dynamic and filled with possibilities than our eyes can see!”3

In other words… as I ponder this “vibrating” universe of the Divine that is around us, perhaps as Rob Bell speaks of in his book, The Divine Hum,4 perhaps… music that that glimpse into the unknown that brings the known, the mystery of the Spirit… of the Divine… more closely into view. In and through the music of the universe… we see what has been, what is, and the limitless possibilities of what might be… perhaps… this is one of the many reasons music can move us so deeply.

There is something about music that carries us, moves us, and heals us. Music is used in numerous methods of therapy. It takes us places only music can touch.

Music is in our beginnings, I would venture to say it is in our genes, runs through our veins, before we even know what it is. Watch a little one, and how they will sway, groove if you will, to a tune… it just comes naturally. There is something about music that can energize us and calm us all at the same time.

I think back, when I was 13, we lost my brother to a football accident, he was just shy of his 16th birthday. And really without any prompting from parents or anyone, I immersed myself in his music. Practically speaking, it was because he had the only stereo on the house and the only collection of rock music. And, though I would not have been able to articulate it at the time, it was very much an escape for me. An escape from the pain and sorrow, an escape from having to hold a conversation with anyone, an escape from remembering the fateful night of the accident.

But it was more than that, in hindsight, I recognize it as a way to create connection, a way to heal my heart and soul… to this day… when I hear some of those songs… some of those albums… it takes me back… not in a sad way… but in a comforting way that reminds me of Chris. It soothes me when I find myself anxious and troubled now. There is something in that particular music that lifts me up and reminds me I am not alone.

I believe music is just part of who we are. Whether we can play an instrument or not, whether we can sing well or not, it is part of who we are. Music is part of our Judeo-Christian tradition and heritage. Music is as much, if not more, essential to gathering for worship and celebration as any other element of our time together. The Psalms and other songs included in our religious texts testify to the importance of music in our lives and our journey of faith.

A dear friend of mine once reminded me, “Any music that moves you is sacred music.” The tune and lyric do not have to be religious or spiritually based for God to connect with the soul. A hymn, a contemporary Christian song… though I would say there are only a handful of artists that connect with me, classical, opera, acapella, full orchestra, country, rock and roll, blues, jazz, show tune… all can deepen our faith journey.

It is why we take a Sunday and celebrate the gifts of our music here at FUMC… our Director, musicians, choirs… all who make the music here at FUMC second to none…
The gift of music, that inspires us, moves us, lifts us up, and carries us on the wings of the Spirt, the gift of music as the Sufi Poet Rumi shared…

“We have been part of a harmony before, so these moments of treble and bass keep our remembering fresh. Hearing the sound, we gather strength. Love kindles with melody. Music feeds a lover’s composure, and provides form for the imagination. Music breathes on personal fire and makes it keener.”5

And so we listen… but most importantly we sing…
I’m gonna sing when the Spirit says Sing,
I’m gonna sing when the Spirit says Sing,
I’m gonna sing when the Spirit says Sing,
And obey the Spirit of God.
Clap, Shout… Sing!

Salaam, Shalom, Peace be with You.

1 British Broadcasting Company May 2012

2 August Rush, November 2007

3 Saux, Katherine, September 2018, Science of Mind, Golden Colorado.

4 Bell, Rob 2013, What We Talk about When We Talk about God, Harper Collins New York, New York.

5 Translated by Coleman Barks, 2004, The Essential Rumi, Harper Collins New York, New York.