I don’t know how many of you watch the Eurovision Song contest, but I am a regular viewer. I watch it once every 25-30 years. I last watched it in 2011, and I might watch it again in 2036. Maybe I am being a bit too dismissive, but the idea of competitive music just seems counterintuitive to me. Music sets a mood, creates rhythm, stirs memories, reengages us with our emotional side. You choose it to suit a purpose. I don’t need to rank one piece of music as ‘the best’, just like I don’t feel the need to have a ‘best tool’ in my mechanic’s toolbox.
Sure, there is some music I don’t like. I once had a housemate when I lived in St Kilda who claimed to be an ‘arrhythmic musician’. Now that was a challenge to the senses. I figured from the noise that came from her bedroom that she was seriously unhinged, or she was having a baby, or she had a cat tied to a saucepan in there, or she was taking the mickey. My guess was all four. The relationship didn’t last.
But, if I had to pick a musical story that best transported me to a happier, more fulfilling place, I’d choose Iceland’s 2011 Eurovision entry. Every time. The background of the story was quite sad. From what I understand, a guy named Sjonni won the right to represent Iceland at Eurovision, but tragically passed away not long before the competition. So a group of his musician friends banded together at the last minute to sing his song in tribute to him. Technically they finished 20th. But in terms of spirit, they were the winners by far. Here were six guys in jeans and white shirts having the time of their lives and singing to honour a mate. They were not the best singers. They were not the best looking, nor the best musicians, nor the best-choreographed entry by any means. But their performance was genuine and heartfelt. There were horns blowing and lots of smiles and laughs and hamming it up for the camera. You didn’t have to like the song itself to see and feel the joy they felt singing it.
The audience just loved them. They were the sentimental favourites that night. It didn’t really matter where they finished. The song was entitled “Coming Home”, and it is the classic prodigal son the story put to music.
They were all so natural you could just see them coming home to their mums and dads after the show.
Son – “Hi Mum, hi Dad, I’m home”.
Mum – “How was Eurovision, dear?”
Son – “Had a ball. We finished twentieth”
Mum – “Yeah, we saw you on the telly!”
Son – “I messed up some of my chord changes…”
Dad – “Son, it doesn’t matter, we’re proud of you”.
I think of my home, my family and my friends around this church and this town when I hear that song. There is the prodigal son storyline which rings true to me for sure. But there is also the variety of characters, the banding together for a higher purpose, the recognition that life is for living. Each of us trying in our own way trying to be perfect, but not always quite getting there. And that is pretty well the story of home and family. Mum and Dad set the tone, bring us up and set us off into the world. Some of us follow the same path as Mum and Dad, some of us get tattoos and dreadlocks and experiment with Buddhism. Some of us do life easily, some of us make it really hard work for ourselves. We are at our best when we have a home to go to.
Somewhere to touch base, reset ourselves. Somewhere to cry when a marriage dissolves, or a loved one gets sick. Somewhere to get some heartfelt advice when you keep choosing the wrong girlfriend, or you choose the right ones but keep losing them. Somewhere to replenish the reserves and rearrange the resources to have another go at life. Somewhere safe. Somewhere where you are free to be yourself.
When I first came to this town, I was pretty lost. I was a refugee from the big city, stung hard by a few misfortunes and a few mistakes that had knocked me about hard. My family, this church and this town all pulled together to give me a new home and a second chance in life. Thank you, God.
PRAYER: Please join me in thanking God for our Church family
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.
SONG: Amazing Grace by 50 Countries Affected by COVID-19 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA7pdABvpnc