I can name that tune in 3 notes.
Probably less, but let’s go with 3.
Those three notes broke through the chatter as an acquaintance’s phone rang.
Before he answered his call I managed to ask,
“Guns N’ Roses? Cold November Rain?”
Clearly, a kindred spirit.
If someone asked my thoughts on the best musical pieces ever written,
Cold November Rain would be in my top 5. I think it is a brilliant work.
I’ve had that song on my mind since July 3rd
when I cranked it driving home from church.
This genre of rock came to me later in life, long after this song was released in the very early
‘90s. At that time I was busy with a newborn and a not-yet-two-year-old,
more interested in lullabies than rock ballads;
any scuttle about the band members (of any band!) escaped me totally.
But with names like Axl and Slash,
I can only imagine the off-stage reputations the leads of Guns N’ Roses generated.
I was engrossed in the song, pondering how such beauty could come from a band with that
name when I realized again why I love Methodism.
“Wait, what?” I can hear you saying…
Here’s the connection: grace.
In his invitation to the Lord’s Table that day, Pastor Andrew focused on grace (he mentioned it
again last Sunday). And Pastor Dawn got specific about grace in her first message to us ,
reminding us that John Wesley (the founder of Methodism),
believed grace is at work in us preveniently;
before we know it, see it, feel it, God is at work in us and through us.
In the Bible, the writer of James said it this way:
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father,
who created all the lights in the heavens.” (James 1:17).
Every good gift comes from God.
So whether Axl and Slash knew it then or know it now, that hauntingly beautiful
melody line, the crazy guitar solo, that particular composition of notes and rhythm…
those are works of God.
If you are still reading, I think I can hear you saying, “huh.”
But let me tell you why it matters, especially now.
Because if the music of Guns N’ Roses is a good gift that comes from God
whether or not the artists in question understand that truth;
and if, as God’s children, we are the beneficiaries of that gift
whether or not the artists in question seem to acknowledge that truth,
then is it possible there are people and situations which we might choose to ignore or
dismiss as hopeless because they seem sooooo far from who or what God might choose
to work through? Are we missing a gift from God because the package seems too rough,
too detestable for God’s grace to shine through?
It’s an easier thought to ponder, I think, if we envision the rough packages as belonging
to the marginalized whom we work to feed and to clothe and to house.
But it might be a much more difficult thought to contemplate that rough package
belonging to someone with opposing socio-political views.
What I’m trying to convey is this: Axl, Slash and Pastor Cathy seemingly don’t even
belong in the same sentence. One might say we seem to be polar opposites.
But God is it work bearing good things through all of us, and I (and the rest of the
world) get a figurative front row seat to that beauty working through them
every time I listen to the song. And I am deeply grateful for that gift.