Rev. Christy Thomas: Jazz best musical metaphor for church

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Today, the increasingly famous Denton Arts & Jazz Festival kicks off. I can hardly wait.

Several years ago, I offered a message comparing the church to several different kinds of musical groups. I showed video snips ranging from genuinely awful beginner bands to superb choral/professional orchestra combinations.

When we watched the jazz band, we found it: the best musical metaphor for the church. In jazz, we see the musical theme consistently undergirded by improvisations as one musician after another stands up and offers his or her talent while being supported by the rest of the band.

Incredible. The church as jazz band. Mutual trust, respect, everyone doing their part for which they have been trained and gained expertise. I love the image. It’s the church at its best. In many times and many ways, the church has played this out.

It happens in the mystery of mission when a group of people come together for some project that has moved each of them individually.

They contribute what they have: money, time, expertise, direction, service — and the music permeates the work.

It also happens in the power of sweeping societal changes when larger, very diverse, groups come together to stand firmly for the care and rights of the outsider. The phrase often found in the Bible, “women, orphans, and sojourners” is a call to protect and invite in those who normally have no place in covenant life.

The key is practice, of course, and the church’s problem, I suspect, is that we don’t practice enough our faith tenants in our moment-to-moment, feet-on-the-ground, life-can-be-pretty-tough daily challenges. But some do, and the music they make ... well, I’m guessing the angels still themselves in heavenly delight to listen to them.

Hence, my anticipation for the weekend.

Now, I’ve never attended the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival before. Generally after Easter I was exhausted from the rigors of Holy Week and Lent and usually took a few weeks away to recoup. But this year, I’m refreshed and eager, ready for the full experience.

I also understand thousands upon thousands of others share my anticipation. With the expected crush of people, I’ve been asking, “Where on earth do people park?”

Now, I live in downtown Denton, so I can walk. And may I just say that the decision to move to this location is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The life, the vibrancy, the food, the music … just love it.

Once, on a lark, I wandered all around the downtown area at 6 p.m. on a Friday noting on my Facebook feed just how many parking spaces were still available. Now, 6 p.m. is early for Friday activities and it was still winter when I did this. I may have seen only 200 available spaces in free, pay or other no-tow lots. Total.

With the weather warmer and more activity outside, parking spots grow scarcer and fill earlier, even on weeknights.

There will be a giant influx of people coming for the festival. Where are they going to park?

Three words here: Use public transportation. Seriously. Wish we had more in Denton, but what we have will help a great deal. Take the A-train to the Euline Brock Downtown Denton Transit Center and pick up a bus to Quakertown Park or “gasp” walk. It’s not that far and the exercise will be good for you.

Two words here: Car pool. You can do this. You might get to know another family or make a new friend by combining transportation.

Finally, remember this commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s parking spot. OK, I may be stretching that just a tiny bit but do try to keep your cool.

Having said that, I do feel a bit smug about having a spot in a towing-enforced lot. I’ve wondered if I could pay next month’s rent by auctioning off that spot for the weekend!

But then, where would I park?

THE REV. DR. CHRISTY THOMAS blogs at Her email address is

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