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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 ANNEX.  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 or more, during the theatre season.  I love the staff, they’re like family now, and I always see some other patron I know. When I lived alone I used to retreat there to work and eat by myself. I liked being out of the house eating something I didn’t need to make, and I enjoyed the chatter around the place while I worked (the quantity of sermons written there, over the years, is astounding). Whenever I’m there, whether with friends or alone, I sit down and “exhale”.  It is usually the end of the day, and I whisper a “thank you” to the Spirit. It has become a place that is comfortable, hospitable, and familiar.  

Against a back wall 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 young.  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 me to the JUKEBOX, from wherever I am…over the internet.  I put money in the APP on my phone, select the music (from a vast catalogue of virtually every style), and the JUKEBOX plays my song.

So, imagine this scenario: there I was, the JUKEBOX and APP were new, and it was my first time using it.  I go to the APP on my phone, choose the JUKEBOX I’d like to activate (There it is: SCAMPY’S), and I begin to choose some music which will then mysteriously play throughout the room, and no one will know who has chosen the songs. 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.  I waited, waited, waited…still nothing.  So, I told myself I had done the whole process wrong.  I lost a little bit of change, but “purchased” another play of “STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN”…still nothing, even though my phone was saying the first song I ordered was already playing.  So, I thought, “third time’s a charm” and set it to play once more.

AFTER I had hit the button to play a THIRD TIME, on my phone, I noticed there were TWO listings for SCAMPY’S: there was the listing for SCAMPY’S ANNEX (where I was enjoying my pizza in silence) and a listing for SCAMPY’S (the full bar next door, part of the same place) – and suddenly dawn broke over my head – they had another JUKEBOX in the bar…WHICH MY PHONE WAS CONNECTED TO.  That’s right, while I was sitting in the silence of SCAMPY’S ANNEX, the bar patrons next door were enjoying THREE ROUNDS of one of the longest songs in history: back-to-back performances of, “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.  I like to guess, as an observer of human nature, what kind of songs would “speak” to the people present – though I don’t personally know them. 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, will change 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.  We are, or I should say we have the choice to be, “the salt of the earth”.  Connecting to Jesus is achieved by 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.

If you have a regular time, or place, to exhale and give a little “thanks”, also take the time to “turn on the music” in someone’s life.  It doesn’t take a special skill, “you ARE the salt of the earth”, 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 

“Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

YOU are the JUKEBOX of the world.