Next week Bruce Springsteen will kick off the second leg of a world tour he began a year ago in Atlanta, GA. I was lucky enough to have tickets to that monumental occasion. Part of why I enjoyed it so much is because I never expected it to happen.
When I first saw The Boss in concert in 2009, I savored the opportunity because I thought it could be my last.
Bruce is only 63 years young. But once an artist crosses into senior citizen territory, you can never be too sure of when their last hoorah is going to be. Everything has to come to an end at some point.
As fate would have it, that concert in 2009 would not be my last chance to see Bruce, but it would be my last chance to see the “Big Man” Clarence Clemons play saxophone for the E Street Band. Clarence has always been the soul of Bruce Springsteen’s act. When he died in 2011 many were unsure of how Bruce or the band would be able to move on.
As Bruce has said in interviews since Clarence’s death, losing Clarence was like “losing the rain.” Bruce and Clarence have always leaned on each other to form the sound of the E Street Band. How do you move on from the loss of something so integral and ingrained in your life?
We can indeed make our sorrows, just as much as our joys, a part of our celebration of life in the deep realization that life and death are not opponents but do, in fact, kiss each other at every moment of our existence. ~ Henri Nouwen, Creative Ministry
The key to moving forward from death is in understanding the connection between life and death. In the creation of something new there is always the destruction of something old. In the destruction of something old there is always the creation of something new.
When hard times come and go and come again, we have a choice: we can let the hard times conquer us and stay down for the count, or we can rise up and begin to rebuild.
If you look back through the Springsteen songbook, it becomes clear that The Boss probably never thought twice about what he would do without The Big Man. Bruce sings consistently of rising up, typically through the coming together of a community. If ever there was a time for Springsteen to gather his band back together again it was now.
The E Street Band could not go quiet from the loss of one of their own. It’s not in their nature. It’s also not in the nature of Christ.
The life of Christ cannot be separated from the death of Christ. And the death of Christ cannot be separated from the resurrection of Christ. The power of new life in Christ comes not only from His death, and it comes not only from His rising. These two events kiss, to paraphrase Nouwen. If Jesus only died for us, or only lived for us, then He would not have won the victory over this world for us.
We must face death in every aspect of our life. Not only do we face the death of the people we love, we often face the death of beloved institutions.
Nothing is timeless in pop culture or the world around us. Heroes, businesses, families, churches all eventually fall.
In these uncertain times we must press on. We must seek comfort in the communities our Creator has provided. We must place our hands in one another’s and pray. We must hold tight to righteous anger when the enemy tries to impede our mission. We must let the sting of the fight inspire us to keep moving forward.
We must refuse to give in to the fear of the unknown. We must keep shining the light of God in the darkness of the world whether our building stands tall or whether we are rising from the rubble onto a new journey together. We must celebrate life, and we must celebrate death, for they are intimately intertwined.
We must gather the church together and say to the world, “Bring on your wrecking ball. Take your best shot. You may bring down our buildings, but you will never crack our foundation.”