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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Improvisation: The ability to create something spiritual

Here are some thoughts I dropped into a funeral address recently for a man who had been a big fan of trad jazz:

St Paul says that God’s children are those who are led through life by God’s Spirit (Romans 8). Jesus said that God’s Spirit is like the wind which “blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going” (John 3. 7 - 8).

Being led by God’s Spirit is a lot like improvising in jazz; you take the tune into yourself and you allow it to take you to places you wouldn’t otherwise go. The essence of jazz is improvisation; you take a traditional tune and do your own thing with it. Sonny Rollins once said, “Improvisation is the ability to create something very spiritual, something of one’s own.”

Another aspect of jazz is that however far out you go when improvising you always return home to the tune at the end. In this passage St Paul says the same thing. Wherever God’s Spirit may lead us in life, we return to God at our end knowing him as Father and sharing the glory and blessings that Jesus himself enjoys.

There is a lot more on improvisation and faith to be found in my co-authored book, The Secret Chord.


Sonny Rollins - There Is No Greater Love.

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