I still remember the day that the doors opened of the back of the church building, Leslie walked down in a white dress with her father, our friends and family stood beside me watching her draw toward me.
And she did it all to a Michael Jackson song.
Seriously. The song was Speechless, the cello came in at just the right moment, Jackson’s voice ran the spectrum, and the whole moment was…thrilling.
I’ve spent the last few hours writing a funeral for Saturday, a very good man passed away this last week, and his funeral seemed to write itself. So it’s personally ironic on a day that I am very focused on death both Farrah Fawcett and the king of pop have passed away. I’m watching CNN’s take on this whole thing and listening to how different fans are reacting. Some seem hysterical, some of them are nostalgic, and some are moonwalking.
Death, no matter how natural it’s causes, always feels unnatural.
The very moment I heard about Michael Jackson’s death I was reading this quote by N.T. Wright, and since it’s so appropriate I’ll pass it on in it’s entirety here.
“1 Corinthians 15:58 says, ‘What you do in the Lord is not in vain.’ You are not
oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not
restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are
not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You
are- strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection
itself–accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new
world. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music
inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every
minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or walk; every act
of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and
for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer,
all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church,
embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of
Jesus honored in all the world—all of this will find its way, through the
resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.
That is the logic of the mission of God.”
Or in other words, whatever is beautiful, creative, in line with the way that God intended for the world to be that stuff is going to last forever.
Now I am not saying that everything that MJ did will last forever (just the stuff from the 80’s) but I think this is really central to understanding how big what God did through Jesus actually is. That there is not a single particle of creation that God is going to allow to be lost. And the things that we do while we are here that is inline with His New Creation project goes on forever.
That the songs that we sing that are in harmony with what God is up to last forever.
This has to change the way not just the way we think about death, but how we think about life. What we spend our days on, the work that we busy ourselves with, the relationships that we cultivate, and the songs that we sing.
Michael Jackson made a difference in this world. I grew up listening to his music as did most of my peers. And yeah, he did some weird stuff, and yeah he had some shady moments, but maybe, hopefully, some of his stuff will last forever.
Because I really like Beat It.