If you were to enter my house on a warm summer night, you might find me sitting on my back deck with my feet on a chair and some music playing in the background. Tonight as apparently fall decided to arrive two months early I’m tucked in the warmth of my kitchen, a cup of tea in reach and my fingers on the keyboard waiting for the words to arrive. The music is on and I am listening to one of my favorite albums, Born and Raised by John Mayer. Once song in particular holds me captive each time it plays. I stop what I am doing and I listen. I just listen. That song is Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967.
The song is this wonderful story of a Man who dissatisfied with life seeks to make a change. ‘With a will to work hard and a library card’ he takes a bold step towards happiness and fulfillment. There is great debate among fans as to whether Walt lives or dies but in the end I’m not sure that’s really what matters. I think what matters is that he took a step towards changing a life that was unsatisfying.
In the last few days I’ve read a lot of articles discussing theology, what the church doesn’t have, who we should blame and why we are failing. I’ve seen lists giving me the 10 things we are doing wrong. I’ve watched as discussions happened between friends regarding these issues and I’ve been disheartened. There’s a lot of talk. A lot of people thinking about what’s wrong. A lot of blame and shame being passed around. Some of it’s warranted and some of it’s encouraging but a lot of it is just another instance of missing the point. It’s not enough to talk about change, we have to actually commit to it. It’s not enough to wish things were different, we have to make them so.
Walt decided to make a homemade submarine, a walk towards certain death some might say in order to fulfill a dream, to accomplish something more. Jesus did the same thing. Jesus walked towards certain death to fulfill God’s dream of reuniting people with God. Maybe as a church we need to dream big and walk towards it without fear. Maybe we need to walk towards certain death. We could throw all our money and resources out into the world without any idea on how we are going to pay for things or keep what we know going, to see what happens. If we feel like we’re walking towards certain death maybe that’s not so bad. In death comes resurrection. In resurrection comes life.
At the end of the song Walt’s life receives a call planned on receiving with the news she never expected, what if that call is Walt having arrived in Tokyo? What if it’s Walt saying he did it, he took his ride? What is Walt survives?
What is our song about? Will anyone receive a call from us saying we did it, we took our ride? We need to dream, to prod and explore where we are going. We have to let go of fear and walk boldly into the world knowing that clinging to life means we will lose it and losing our lives means will will gain everything. As a church we have to be willing to lose everything, to leave it all behind to follow Jesus.
I’d like to think Walt survives and if you’re looking for me in the next few months you’ll find me in my basement doing some building of my own…