At the last minute, a friend invited me to the Kauffman Center to hear the famous cellist Yo Yo Ma in a “community conversation.” I’ve long admired his cello performances and have read many inspiring stories about him, but hearing Yo Yo Ma speak was tantalizing. We arrived a couple of minutes late, so it took me a minute to figure out what was happening. Yo Yo Ma was seated in a living room chair with a cello on the floor in front of him. On his right was Ralph Yarl, the 18-year-old Kansas Citian who was shot in Kansas City’s Northland last year. Remember that? He accidentally knocked on the wrong door when he was picking up his younger brothers and the homeowner shot him because he was black. Ralph just graduated from high school and is headed to Texas A & M to study engineering this fall.

Ralph and Yo Yo were joined by KC Symphony Conductor Michael Stern and Atlanta-based composer Joel Thompson who wrote the moving piece “The 7 Last Words of the Unarmed.” The four of them discussed the power of music to heal and transform. They shared the vulnerability that is required of musicians and composers. And then they played together: Ralph on bass clarinet, Joel on piano, and Yo Yo on cello: “With Malice Toward None” by John Williams. I left with my heart bursting with hope and solace. Not only because of the inspiring conversation and the beautiful music but because I could see the loving energy, warm affection and deep respect between these four musicians as they hugged on stage. I needed the reminder that music shapes us with a holy mystery and empowers us to create a world of justice and harmony.

In that brief hour I glimpsed God’s holy wonder unfolding. And it reminded me what a graceful moment unfolds each Sunday when our choir sings at 11, our instrumentalists and soloists’ offerings at 9 and 10, and those special weeks when the bell choir plays. In just a few moments, the music transforms and heals. In a world where we are bombarded by bad news, I hear in their holy musical offerings that we are surrounded by goodness. John 1 proclaims that God’s light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. We as God’s people have received “grace upon grace” says John. It’s not enough to believe it, we need to feel it and live it.

Grace and Peace,