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It’s no secret one of my favorite places to hang out after a rehearsal, performance, church or to write and work (while eating and drinking) is SCAMPY’S.  For those of you not from around Anderson, Indiana, SCAMPY’S is a local, family-owned “pizza/pub” with a rich and generous history.  It’s a local “watering hole” and a great place to eat, drink, meet people and have a great time…owned and operated by some pretty cool people.

I’m there quite a bit; an average of twice a week during the theatre season, and sometimes more.  When my schedule is fuller and I need to combine work and dinner – and it’s late in the afternoon or late at night – I’ll retreat there by myself.  I love the staff, they’re like family now, and I always see some other patron I know.  Then they leave me to my work (the amount of sermons written there in 13 years is astounding). 

In the back of the room is a JUKEBOX.  Now, I say JUKEBOX, and that is “technically” what it is, but JUKEBOXES have changed even since I was a kid.  This one doesn’t require you to stand in front of it and push buttons, unless you want to.  It doesn’t even require change – you can use APPLE PAY or your credit card (handy).  But the awesome thing is the JUKEBOX APP for my iPHONE which connects to the JUKEBOX.  I put money in the APP, select the music (from a vast catalogue of virtually every style) and the JUKEBOX plays.

So, imagine this scenario: there I am, either alone, or with an unsuspecting group, and I start to choose some music which then mysteriously plays throughout the room, and no one knows (usually) who has chosen the songs.

The night I got the APP on my phone, and started to use it for the first time, I forgot there was SCAMPY’S (the bar on the other side) and SCAMPY’S ANNEX (where I was enjoying pizza while trying to figure out the JUKEBOX APP – two different places).  I chose my first, inaugural, song to be played on the new-fangled JUKEBOX – “STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN” which I thought was appropriate, both as a patron and minister.

It didn’t play.

Since it was just a few cents for each play, I chose it again.  It didn’t play.

I looked at the APP, the APP said it was playing…I bought yet another “play” of it before I figured out what you already have – I chose the wrong JUKEBOX.  And while I was sitting in the silence of the ANNEX, the bar patrons next door were enjoying three rounds of back-to-back “STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN”! 

Now, I’m sure that was more than irritating for them, though I didn’t go over and check.  To this day I’m not sure anyone understands what happened.

That experience, however, started me on a journey to “alter the mood of my fellow patrons in the ANNEX” with music.  I’ve walked in where various families, groups or couples are quietly talking over their meals when all of the sudden an energetic song that I’ve stealthily placed in the JUKEBOX queue fills the room.  It’s amazing to see the power of music to change the mood and sound of a room.  People become filled with energy: the sounds are not just louder (probably trying to be heard over the music) but also filled with laughter and a little more energy.

 I’m not making this up, the power of music to alter the essence of a place and person is like seeing the change when a light it turned on in darkness, or a smile appears on a face, or someone you love walks into the room.

While I’ve had fun choosing music at SCAMPY’S, the Spirit takes advantage of that time, once again, to teach.  Though music is a more powerful example, I have seen how a small thing makes big changes.  How a kind word shifts an entire day for someone, how a smile to a stranger changes the way they walk as they pass, and how a “thank you” to a server is the “icing on the cake” for someone who may feel transparent to the many customers they have served that day.

Jesus is right.  The connecting to Him is our connection to each other, and visa versa.  When we “do unto others” we “do unto Him”.  The person who makes others laugh, who lifts others up with their words, who smiles, who thanks…who gives, is a person who connects us with each other, and connects us with God.

Our spiritual ancestors understood that God’s commands (mitzvot) were centered around creating connections with each other and forming or maintaining community, with the understanding that God is loved when we love each other.

During these next two “weeks of thanks” take the time to “turn on the music” in someone’s life.  It doesn’t take a special skill, you don’t need the JUKEBOX APP on your phone.  All you need to do is remember what it was like when Jesus Himself, or through someone else, turned the music on for you – and do that: smile, thank, embrace, give, and love.

 “Money spent on a JUKEBOX is never a wasted investment.”
Famous Quotes by RICK VALE