Reflection # 1

On the subject of no man is never ahead of his time, a moment of reflection produced an incident perhaps worthy of consideration.

It was Maundy Thursday of Holy Week in the spring of 1969. A church choir made up of mostly professional- class, musically educated singers and instrumentalists presented a special performance. The program for the evening included the usual homily and The Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ. Composed by the early baroque composer, Heinrich Schutz, this seminal piece preceded the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The congregation/audience was that of a group of Presbyterians in a wealthy island suburb of Seattle, Washington.

Conducted and directed by an American of German ancestry, with the help of his Amsterdam Dutch naturalized American wife, the music was a setting of Jesus last words as reported in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the New Testament. This anachronistic mostly Protestant, but historical Catholic musical event featured an University trained American Black bass soloist, and the wife of a Rabbi singing the tenor role of the thief on the cross to the left of Jesus.

The homily for the evening was given by a southern-born minister. As a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary with post-doctoral studies in Edinburgh, he often spoke loud articulate sermons against the Vietnam War. At that time he had a wife and two daughters, and later came out as a homosexual.

As a precursor of a more recent world -wide attempt by groups of people of Judeo-Christian lineage and heritage to unite, things don’t get much more ecumenical than that.

However, in retrospect, it would have been a good idea to search for a Muslim to sing the role of the other criminal to make up for the Old Testament indiscretions of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph’s multi-colored dream coat, Hagar and Ishmael etc.

Indeed, no man is never ahead of his time. He just finds himself in a universe that has failed to synchronize and it may well never do so.

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