“I always think there’s a band, kid.” -- Professor Harold Hill
It may be the most American of musicals ever produced on the big stage or screen.
“The Music Man.”
There’s never been a better time for a revival of this quintessential American story. Certainly no better time than when America watches or listens to testimony after testimony after testimony, under oath so help them God, about our own vintage Professor Harold Hill and what amounts to a cult of followers who paid their bottom dollar on the bet that River City will have a band with 76 trombones in their big parade. Our Congressional House Committee to investigate the failed Coup to overthrow our 2020 Presidential election is on stage in the role of River City’s town council seeking to expose a con artist, a salesman who claims to be a music “Professor” that always thinks there is a band.
Perhaps you remember the story line.
You may then remember “the think method.” If you think you can play a musical instrument, you can. If you think “Minuet in G” you can play “Minuet in G.”
That, my friends, is where America has come to in this year of our Lord, 2022, C.E.
We’ve got ourselves a band. Some of our family members are caught up in it, paid in full, and waiting for their horns and uniforms to arrive one of these days. The horns represent the pre-Covid economy. The uniforms represent the detained and deported brown skinned foreigners seeking to replace our white Christian citizens. The band? How about our Supreme Court riding rough shod over our sinful pool halls or abortion clinics?
The Professor always thinks there is a band, horns aplenty, uniforms neatly pressed, because there is always a parade. And who holds a parade without inviting a band?
It’s the American story, yet some might say the human story, until we can come up with a different one. A better one. A narrative that ends better than one where the rag tag band members play their sour notes while their fellow citizens hear a world-class orchestra, all while the “Professor” escapes the parade route leaving the band in his wake while en route to the bank.
America’s Christian Church has had every opportunity to tell a better story. One where a “real” Professor/Rabbi/Teacher exposes the fraud and creates a “real” band by explaining the “truth” that makes us all free. Instead the Church has taken up the role of Miss Marian, the librarian, who knows the truth but pretends not to know for the sake of little Winthrop and all the other band or cult members who have never been happier than when believing the lies of The Music Man.
So where does that leave us as Americans today, as we head toward a celebration of our “freedom” and so-called “independence?” Where does that leave us as America’s Christian Church?
Will there still be pool tables and abortions? Will there still be queer people? Will there still be brown skinned people? And will there still be truth hanging like the crucified Christ dying at the hands of those who know not what they do? I would say “yes.”
But the good news is this is not the end of America’s story.
There’s still a story to tell. A better narrative to come! About God’s Kingdom coming to earth as it is in heaven led by the resurrected Christ who died but didn’t stay dead. The real Professor who teaches the truth that sets us all free. And who one day makes band members out of us all. Because Jesus Christ is God’s way of leading a very different parade with a very different band into God’s Kingdom with no need for escape like some fraudulent “Professor” in our midst en route to his bank.
This is the story we as Christ’s Church may need to tell. And at the end of our message we may need to issue this invitation. Yes, there is always a band. But choose now whose band you will march in this July 4th. The one led by Professor Hill? Or the one led by Jesus Christ?
One or the other.
Can never be both.