In the words of a brilliant musician who left this life too early this week –
We are Gathered here today to get through this thing called Life.
Like many folks around the world after hearing of the death of Prince at the age of 57, I revisited some of his music – songs that had been a part of the soundtrack of my life during various seasons and stages.
Prince certainly had a mass pop music appeal, but his music also transcended genres. And the lyrics actually had quite a bit of depth. I was struck as I listened again to the songs with new ears – by the longing that I heard. There is a longing in the lyrics of his songs for a love that is real. For companionship and friendship that goes beneath the surface. That isn’t just a flash in the pan. But that has staying power.
Artists often have an incredible way of getting to the heart of things, of speaking on our behalf of the real human struggle and striving -
naming what we really at the end of the day want most.
I speak often of the image of the Holy Trinity – in the icon painted by Andrei Rublev. Largely because it reminds us that the very nature of God is community – intimate connection, love, and fellowship.
And we were made in the image of this God –
And so when Prince sings Purple Rain - about the longing in his heart for a joy not just for him but also for the person he loves most.
He is speaking about our very nature as created children of God. Made for connection.
Connection with each other and connection with God.
In our Scripture today, we see Jesus preparing his closest companions for what is about to come.
They have been closely connected, doing life together daily for these past few years – learning and growing.
But Jesus knows what is coming and that his time with them is soon coming to an end in just a few days.
Jesus wants to be very clear about how that connection is going to continue.
I always struggled a bit with understanding and conceptualizing the work of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus made sense.
Even God the Father, I could wrap my head around.
But the Spirit – wind, flame, ethereal power or energy moving through the world, and as Jesus speaks in this Scripture – the spirit of truth living in us.
While I know I have experienced the work of this Spirit in many moments in my life, I always had trouble describing this to others – putting it into words.
(Click the link below to read the poem)
The lyrics I quoted earlier were from the song, “Let’s Go Crazy”
We are gathered here together to get through this thing called life.
The background music is kind of churchy/organ music and Prince speaks these words as if he is the preacher.
But then the song goes on to say that there is something better – something in the future – after we die that will bring us meaning and happiness and connection.
But since we won’t find that fully here – in this life – on this side of eternity – we might as well do our best to enjoy the ride – to cherish what we have – and to live to the fullest.
To try to get through this thing called life.
Now, I don’t know if this is still where Prince was in his thinking and religious experience by the end of his life – for he wrote this pretty early in his career.
But I hope somewhere along the way – he began to take in and understand and connect with the words of the Scripture today.
Which tells us that this relationship, this connection, this intimacy that we so long for with the one who created us – it lives in us. Now.
And so we don’t just have to try and get through this life.
We get to live it to the fullest.