4 July 2015 Ferntree Gully, Melbourne
Jazz Mass at St Thomas Church in Ferntree Gully, Vic
I am sitting at the piano on a cold winter's morning in the foothils of the leafy green suburb of Ferntree Gully in Melbourne. The gentle pitter patter of rain is lightly drumming on the tin roof of the church. The congregation is starting to come in and take their seats. There is some nervous anticipation in the room.
I am playing the Ray Charles classic "Georgia" as a homage to American Independence Day. The mood is upbeat yet introspective. The Reverend Raffaella Pilz takes to the stand and addresses the congregation. I noticed that I was saying to myself to "play it safe" and that "church should be serious".
But half way through I let go of my concerns, thoughts and feelings that church services are heavy and significant. And I played "Oh Happy Day" sang and played with gusto. The congregation started singing louder, clapping their hands and swaying in time to the music. Their smiles were palpable.
At the end of the service, finishing with a rousing rendition of "Battle Hymn Of The Republic" I noticed people were singing "Mister Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose...", the old children's nursery song. I was smiling to myself. They were glowing how much they enjoyed the service and that they couldn't wait to come back to church. And they are inviting their friends to join them.
In that moment, I discovered who I am for others is light and love. And I was reminded again of the importance of music to people in their lives. And the difference I make when people are participating in music around me.