By Vince Anderson
I sing gospel music in a bar in Brooklyn, NY every Monday night. This is after I sing gospel music in churches all weekend. Every week at the bar I sing a song/hymn by Pete Townsend of The Who. The lyrics ring our through the beer soaked, darkened room; “Let my love open the door, to your heart.” The crowd joins in, and it becomes a plea, a psalm; sung by a community desiring a connection, to themselves, to each other, to something bigger. I sing to the audience, and the audience sings to me. Through the song we invite each other into our collective dis-ease, into our collective joys, into our collective pain, into our collective hope, knowing, as the song says that love is the only way in. The millennials that frequent the club, are disillusioned, and bitter about the world that has been left for them, but in that moment, there is a sense that, as the song says, “Love will solve all our problems.” In this holy moment, there is a feeling, that not only is one loved, but the realization that one can love, as well. To love and to be loved. This relational love, is real love. It seems so simple, but yet we fail at it so often. How many times, have you heard church people say, “We just wanna love on you.” This sounds well and good, but more often than not, the person saying that doesn’t want love in return. To receive love is too intimate, too vulnerable, too risky. The church would rather “ad-minister” love, than to receive it. At the bar, everybody is looking for love, and willing to give it. Perhaps the doors of the bars are more open to relational love, than the doors of the church. As a church we must learn to sing songs of love with each other, not just at each other.
Rev. Vince Anderson is a musician and pastor in Brooklyn, NY. He serves several faith communities including Citylights Community, Bushwick Abbey, and Barstool Tabernacle. He and his band, The Love Choir have played their unique brand of “Dirty Gospel”, every Monday in NYC for the last 20 years.