I’m currently loving a lot of the music that features on BBC4. From an homage to Scott Walker on the Proms, to concert footage of this year’s Glastonbury festival (a far more civilised way of viewing the various acts!), our TV is these days used as much for iPlayer recordings than for scheduled transmissions. One particular programme that particularly grabbed me, had the intriguing title: “Rock N Roll Guns for Hire: The Story of the Sideman. In it, a number of renowned musicians recounted what it was like to accompany major stars on tour and in the studio. So, we got an inside view of those who worked for many years with artists such as David Bowie, Prince and the Rolling Stones. In the case of each sideman or sideman, it was clear that they were were always aware of their unique place - not the main attraction, but equally encouraged to play a spectacular supporting role whereby their own gifts and passions could be fully utilised and realised.
It was a fascinating watch, and encouraged me to reflect on our own calling to be sidepeople for the main act of Jesus. For again, whilst we should never forget whose show it is, Jesus encourages us to play our part, drawing on our skills and talents, that together with Him (if you’ll run with this analogy) we can have a greater impact on the world. It seems to me that this in part was the message of the parables that we looked at in Matthew 13. For there was great joy expressed at having found something unique, matched with a willingness to give everything else up in the pursuit of it. This then (as in the parable of the yeast) could be enjoyed by many more, as we and our passions are thrown into the mix with Jesus to work towards the kingdom.
So how, I wonder do we respond to our calling to be sidemen and sidewomen to Jesus? Perhaps we could start by echoing the prayer shared with me by our retreat leader before my ordination 30 years ago. "My one prayer” exclaimed Jack Nicholls “is that I dont get in the way, of Jesus whom I seek to follow and serve". May that be true for us, all these years later.
PS If you are able to, please join us this coming Sunday, both for light breakfast from 10.15 before the service, and afterwards be prepared to bring picnic food that we can share together outdoors (we hope!) at nearby Garside Gardens.