The Coffee Shop is proving once again to be a treasure trove of knowledge and ideas… Every day the radio plays overhead. When I’m not making drinks or talking with a customer, I usually find myself dancing along with the music while working on a side task. This really makes the slower days not so bad, in fact, they can be pretty fun. Depending on who’s working that day determines what’s being played on the radio. Usually it’s something from the 70’s, occasionally the 80’s. Until recently I never knew how much I enjoyed 70’s music–and 80’s is becoming a new favorite for me… strange enough.
To be honest, I never knew some of the songs I hear every day originated in a different decade. I’ve heard the songs before, but I find myself saying–oh, this is a different way to sing the song–but then I catch myself..this is the original. The other ways I’ve heard the song is just a cover. I’m hearing a lot of songs for what seems like the first time. The vocals are a bit different, words changed slightly, and the general and overall feel of the song is different. And sometimes, to be quite honest, the originals sound funny.
I know–the logic is completely wrong on this one. But it’s true. Take M&Ms for example; if the first M&M you ever had was a Peanut M&M, then when you finally taste the plain M&M it’s going to taste just that–plain…like something’s missing, it doesn’t feel right.
I’m not quite sure if this problem goes beyond my generation…I think in some cases it does. We have become so comfortable with “the covers” that the originals taste and sound and look funny. Starbucks did a cover of a latte, cheap espresso and foamy milk–and now no one wants to try real coffee or espresso (sorry, I’m biased). Pizza Hut, Domino’s and the like did a cover of an Italian classic–I bet we wouldn’t know what to do if we had a real, traditional pizza. Wal Mart and Target are covers of what a market place used to be. When I was in Guatemala clothes, veggies, meat, and toys were all found within the same block–but you bought them from different people, supported different families, and in a small way brought some sort of diversity into your home. Now, if we have to go to more than one store to find something–we’re not at all happy.
But what else has been covered–so that when we hear the original–it sounds funny?
Has society made a cover of the gospel? The trendy message now is to have a nice family with Jesus’ help, make friends in a small group so you can learn how to apply the Bible to your daily life. But we hear messages about selling everything and giving to the poor, loving our neighbors–all of them, creating relationships of reconciliation, justice for the oppressed, release for the captive, grace for the sinners, good news for the poor, hope for the helpless…
Some of these things sound funny.
We haven’t seen or heard the gospel in this way and we’re not sure what to do with it. Do we call it dated and put it aside and go back to our modern translations and applications…or do we congratulate ourselves on a fine discovery of a classic? I wouldn’t do either…
Just like the classic songs I hear on the radio–they were new at one time; they have original artists and stories behind every album, every lyric. We are not new in the struggle of listening for, seeking out the original. There have been many before us who have heard the enticing harmony that blends reconciliation and righteousness, faith and radical hope… There are those who sing it for us and brought the music to our attention. There are those who sing because the music is beautiful and the lyrics are a story of hearts crying out. And there are those of us, hearing with fresh ears and for the first time, stumbling through the lines and trying to sing along… We are always moving and pages turning on this journey, with many songs filling the sound track.