Monday, July 12, 2010

...about Vuvuzelas

I wrote this for the local paper and it appeared on Friday.

I'm one of the few people I know who likes the sound of the Vuvuzela.  Anyone who has been watching the World Cup soccer games from South Africa will be familiar with the buzzing, honking sound that the fans make with their plastic horns.  That's the sound of the Vuvuzela.

Some find it annoying or disturbing.  After the first few games of the World Cup there were calls to ban the Vuvuzela.  Broadcasters have tried to filter the sound somewhat.  I'm glad it wasn't banned and I'm glad that I can still hear the tooting of the horns as I watch the games.  The Vuvuzela is part of South Africa's soccer culture.  It's a part of the fans' enthusiasm as they cheer on their favourite teams.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Eastern Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.  It was a convention attended by about 300 members of churches from Sault Ste. Marie to Halifax.  I submitted a motion at the convention "that the Ministry Director for Worship Ministries investigate the possible liturgical and musical uses of the Vuvuzela and communicate her findings to the wider church."

Okay, it was a joke, and I submitted it to inject a bit of levity into what can sometimes be pretty serious and boring business meetings.  One pastor got up to propose an amendment to the motion, suggesting that it be for "outdoor" uses because if it's blown indoors the Vuvuzela can damage your hearing.  He also gave a few reasons why it might be a good instrument to be used in churches.

The Vuvuzela can be played by anyone so it's a very inclusive instrument and in the church we want to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone.  Also, the Vuvuzela plays only one note which can be a symbol of Christian unity.  You'll find all kinds of different churches throughout our city and the world.  We worship in different ways and we might understand and express our relationship with God in different ways.  But something we do share is our faith in Jesus Christ.

The Vuvuzela can be seen as a symbol of inclusiveness and unity.  We sing a hymn in our church written by Marty Haugen that says:
"Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace,
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place."
The Good News of Jesus Christ tells us that divisions are removed.  The love of Jesus can transform our lives and bring about reconciliation between ourselves and God and between each other.  The divisions that would include some and exclude others are abolished by the grace of God.  St. Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia, "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).

We are also united in Christ.  In the Bible the letter to the Ephesian church says, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:4-6).  Our unity doesn't mean we're all the same.  It means we share something in common, our faith in Jesus Christ.

So I'm going to try to get my hands on a Vuvuzela or two.  And I'll blow it (outside) and think of how that buzzing tone reminds me of the inclusiveness and unity of our faith in Jesus Christ.

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