The Power of Love
When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
Didn’t think you’d ever see me quoting Jimi Hendrix? It was one of many things said by the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop-elect, The Right Reverend Michael Curry, who I had the pleasure of hearing this past Sunday in his opening address to those gathered for a conference on non-violence. If there is a Michael Curry Fan Club, sign me up, because I am in awe of his ability to communicate hard truths and good news at the same time. And the good news of love always wins in his world. His glass is more than half full, and that kind of cheer-leading for the Episcopal Church is not something we get to hear very often. Plus, we learned a secret about him…one that endears him to me all the more…he’s taking violin lessons! What better way to balance the demands of his new office, and demonstrate his own appreciation for the hard work of making music on any level?
Curry’s talk centered on the power of love to change the world. That is a concept that probably drives a lot of people crazy. Like music, love’s effect on the human soul is intangible, immeasurable, often indescribable. It’s something that new-age, vaguely old-style hippie, liberal leaning baby boomers like me talk about. But scientists could probably give us a thousand reasons why love is better for us physiologically, and it only makes sense that if each of us is individually healthy than the world becomes a better place. So I suggest we start finding reasons to love.
The hymn What wondrous love is this, out of that marvelous early American resource of religious song, The Sacred Harp, sums it up for me. A tune molded from the simplest of melodic building blocks, the Dorian scale – the white notes on a piano from D to D. Not exactly a minor key, but certainly not a major key. It’s a tune that expresses the expansive, open quality we often associate with American music, with its plain rhythms and its call for harmonization with open fifths that refuse to anchor the listener in either sadness or happiness, but simply in strength. The text incorporates three basic expressions of faith – wonder, song and the timelessness of God’s love.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to lay aside his crown for my soul.
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme I will sing.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity I’ll sing on.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_48iI1RBtnc – (the video isn’t particularly relevant, but the singing is really exquisite.)