On one hand it was simply a Henrico County Public Schools Black History Month Mass Choir Concert, but on the other hand it was a demonstration of the power of possibility.
You say black people and white people can’t get along? I saw kids of almost every color standing together, singing together, swaying back and forth and smiling as if they really, really loved what they were doing and who they were doing it with.
You say church and state are separate? I saw kids from public high schools singing songs like “Jordan’s Angels,” and “Praise His Holy Name,” and “Keep Your Lamps” (Trimmed and Burning), and “True Light.” I heard them lifting up the name of Jesus as if we were having church, and not a public school choir concert.
You say you have to behave in church? I don’t know. When the concert was over the three students who were playing drums, bass, and guitar began to jam, just for the fun of it, and people began to move, just for the fun of it too. There was a happy, bubbly, post-concert mood in the air that was contagious. Young people and old people alike were catching it. I caught it, and found myself moving to the music for the second time this week at First Baptist (what’s going on here?).
What is the Kingdom of Heaven like, and with what shall I compare it? It’s like a rainbow-colored public school mass choir singing gospel songs in a church sanctuary until people just have to get up out of their pews and dance. When that happens, heaven comes to earth.
Tonight in that same sanctuary someone will make the sign of the cross on my forehead and invite me to begin a 40-day Lenten journey with Jesus. The mood will be almost completely different. We will move from the joyful Mardi Gras of last night’s concert to the sober reflection of Ash Wednesday.
And yet this, too, is how heaven comes to earth.