Monday, September 9, 2013

Alvy on God

This past weekend, I had the great honor of meeting and hearing one of the most famous baritone/bass singers of our time.  His name is Alvy Powell.  Alvy knew many of the Presidents of the United States personally, he sang for 8 of them in concert.  Alvy sang at Gerald Ford's funeral, and is friends with Betty Ford.  Alvy was friends with the late Ronald Reagan, and is still friends with Nancy.  Alvy has sung in most of the great cathedrals of Europe and America.  Alvy had an audience with the pope, in which jokes about not being sure whether to kiss the pope's ring, since he is Protestant.  Alvy has sung the lead role in Porgy and Bess hundreds of times on Broadway.  He is, simply put, one of the best in his business.

In an interview that First Pres. conducted with Alvy, before he sang in a concert at our church this past weekend, he was asked what the secret to his success is/was.  Alvy, without flinching said, "Well, it isn't that I have the greatest voice.  Believe me, there are better voices out there.  I think it's that...(and then he paused), when I sing, I open my heart, and my soul to people, and I open my heart and soul to God, and it is the intersection between being open to people and open to God that allows me to do what I do."  After pausing for a moment again, Alvy said, "Yeah, I think that's what it is...."

Alvy's honesty and openness about what his real secret to success is, about what really connects with people and audiences is rich and so humbly honest.  And Alvy's stated secret is, if one is to be honest, what makes all performers great.  It is also what makes all preachers great.

OPENNESS to People

There is a moment in every sermon or persuasive effort, when reality sets in.  When the words that a preacher is saying are either the truest, realest things that have been said in a long time, or they are not.  The congregation knows this moment.  But in order for these words to be effective, the preacher has to be vulnerable to the congregation.  The preacher has to be open.

Yesterday, in church, I was two feet away from Alvy as he sang.  The words of his song were as if he were speaking them himself.  They did not seem like words from a piece of music.  It seemed like a conversation between Alvy and the congregation.  They were natural, but they were also rehearsed.  They were ordinary, and yet they were transcendent.  The words were permanent, and yet they were fleeting.  As soon as the song began, it was over.  But Alvy's openness stayed with us.

Jesus had a open soul.  I wonder what it must of have been like to see Jesus preach.  Jesus (human of humans), was eminently real.  Jesus could not have looked like anything out of the ordinary, his voice was nothing special, his speech was nothing lofty or elevated.  He was normal.  And yet, many who listened must have felt and known that Jesus was so much more than a rabbi or even a prophet.  Those who listened to Jesus must have know, for a brief and shining moment, that they were encountering God.  God was here, and then he was gone.  But Jesus' openness stay with us.

And allows all to enter in...

All For Now,

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