We continue with week 3 of our worship series: Yes to the Mess: Surprising Lessons from Jazz & Acts. This series is structured around a book called Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz by Frank J. Barrett. Throughout this worship series we will hold Barrett’s reflections on jazz in creative tension with the development of the earliest church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
Outline for Yes to the Mess
April 7 Jazz: Mastering the Art of Unlearning (Acts 5.27-32)
April 14 Developing Affirmative Competence (Acts 9.1-20)
April 21 Embracing Errors as a Source of Learning (Acts 9.36-43)
April 28 Balancing Freedom and Constraints (Acts 11.1-18)
May 5 Jamming & Hanging Out (Acts 16.9-5)
May 12 Soloing & Supporting (Acts 6.1-7)
May 19 Nurturing Double Vision (Acts 2.1-21)
May 26 Engaged & Strategic Improvisation (Acts 2(37-42)
This week worship will be rooted in Acts 9.36-43. Acts weaves together different narrative strands of the church’s mission to the end of the earth. Last week we learned of Saul’s conversion to Paul and his witness. This week we learn part of Peter’s story. Our focus is his healing of Tabitha. The widows of Joppa had only Tabitha to lead them. Tabitha is the only woman in all of scripture to be called a disciple. Tabitha cared for the widows, apparently out of her own resources and in the most practical of ways — she sewed their clothing. Her death was such a crisis that they sent for Peter.
“Alone with the body, Peter prayed and then commanded Tabitha to get up. She opened her eyes and, with help, got up. Peter had been on the move, teaching and healing by the power of the Holy Spirit. By that same Spirit he was able to show Tabitha to be alive and well, restored body and soul to the widows who depended on her acts of charity for their survival.
Many who heard about Tabitha’s venture to and her return from the other side believed, (in Jesus) perhaps because it was a miraculous event. Or perhaps because of what the event revealed about God. The widows would not be abandoned. God would not allow it.” (from NIB, oVl 10 p. 161-2)
In Yes to the Mess, Frank J Barrett writes, “Miles Davis, the great trumpeter, bandleaer, and composer, had a favorite saying about jazz musicians: ‘If you’re not making a mistake, it’s a mistake…. Often there are discrepancies between intention and action: Sometimes the hands fail to play what the inner ear imagines.” (Yes to the Mess, 43).
Peter found a way to correct an error, the death of Tabitha. He might not have expected his witness to include this “resuscitation” but he did what was necessary in order move forward with his mission. Might her death have been a mistake? Might his action be considered an improvisation around a mistake for a positive outcome?
How might the framework of “error and improvisation” shift your thinking?
How might “making a mistake” be considered a positive action?