As an instrumentalist, I’ve always loved Psalm 150. “Praise God with trumpet, harp, lyre, strings and pipe, clashing cymbals.” Or as my college roommates wrote in icing on the cake for my recital reception: “Praise God with flutes!”
The psalmist doesn’t mention saxophones…only, I’m sure, because the saxophone wasn’t invented until the 19th century. Had they existed—and certainly, if the psalmist had heard John Coltrane play—I know saxophones would have been included in this iconic instrumentalist’s psalm.
The confirmands remind us in this banner they helped create, that each of us has been given gifts by God. We use those gifts both to build up the body of Christ and to express our gratitude and praise to God.
John Coltrane’s gift was music. For him, playing saxophone, improvising Jazz wasn’t just a hobby, it wasn’t even just a job. For him, it was a calling. Music was a means of connecting with the divine. Music was a means of connecting human beings with each other.
The greatest expression of John Coltrane’s musicianship and his spirituality is a jazz suite called, “A Love Supreme.” The suite is based on a prayer Coltrane wrote giving thanks to God for God’s love.
Now, we’ll hear the first movement, “Acknowledgement.” In the prayer,
Coltrane says, “The fact that we exist is acknowledgement of Thee, O Lord.” And not only is our existence an acknowledgement of God, but it also is evidence of God’s love for all creation—including human beings. Acknowledgement “acknowledges” God’s love for all creation in the mantra-like theme: “a love supreme.” Toward the end of the movement, Coltrane even begins chanting the words, “a love supreme, a love supreme, a love supreme.”
As the music plays, you are invited to do a number of things. You can read Coltrane’s prayer. You can read some of the quotes included on the insert in your bulletin. Or you can do what Coltrane is doing as he plays: you can pray to God in the language of music, the language of Jazz.
Let us pray. (Play, “Acknowledgement”)