Saturday night saw our Jazz event at Gunnersbury, with Ruth Naomi Floyd and Aaron Graves. It was a tremendous night. The quality of the singing and playing was simply outstanding. The set explored the African-American slave experience, and Ruth sang a number of Spirituals, giving brief and helpful explanation of how various songs give voice to both despair and longing. Many of the songs had a clear Gospel voice in them.
Two-thirds of the way through the evening David Meredith spoke for 15-20 mins. David explored the themes and issues which Ruth’s set brought up, and he gave many perceptive comments on Jazz and its reflection of what life is like. The Gospel came through clearly, and ears which would never ever listen to an explanation of Christianity were playing very close attention.
The only disappointment was that numbers weren’t better. The downstairs of our building was reasonably full, but we had hoped to fill the gallery, too. We plugged the event extensively in the congregation and in the local community and beyond through posters, internet postings and invitations, including putting 10000 fliers into local homes. Noone locally could say that they didn’t know! I guess that some Christian people are simply conservative about an event like this one which brings Jazz and the Gospel alongside each other. The bigger factor, though, with our local community is that people are just prejudiced against the Gospel, and will avoid it at all costs, even when it’s part of a high-quality and well-organised event in a beautiful building. The Gospel itself is just too controversial and disturbing for our professedly open-minded neighbours.
Still, this was a really enjoyable evening. We were all stirred to hear afresh Christ as the answer to our deepest needs, and those who weren’t Christians saw and heard the transforming message of the Gospel. We pray that that will do them eternal good.