Summary: Funeral for Mr. Arthur Capehart, a pioneering jazz musician and public school music teacher
Exodus 14:10-15:3 passim
Message: THE SONG OF TRIUMPH HAS BEGUN
But Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
Musicians are tagged with a certain label. Musicians project a certain image. People say that musicians are temperamental. That they are emotional, volatile, hard to predict, difficult to deal with. The old mythology is that you cannot talk sense to a musician, because he will react out of feelings, he will come from places you never even imagined. The old stereotype about musicians is that they are half crazy, should never be trusted with practical decisions, and can never be counted on for anything other than trouble!
Now that I have your attention and have thoroughly alienated Dr. Winfield, Mrs. Dixon, and Deacon Deloatch, I must hurry on to observe that Arthur Capehart both supported the myth and belied it. Arthur Capehart the musician, the man, felt deeply, responded out of the depths, came from places the more ordinary of us never imagined, and lived out of his heart more than out of his intellect. He supported the image in that way; Arthur lived out of the deep places of his spirit.
But he put the lie to the image in that he could also live with and for others, he could make decisions and could do so with others’ needs in mind, and he could and would be counted on. He put the lie to the old notion that a man of the spirit cannot lead. Arthur could lead and did lead; he led more than musical selections. Arthur led in the pathways of the spirit. Arthur showed us the way toward singing a song of triumph. Today, for Arthur, at last, the song of triumph has begun.
Some thirty-three centuries ago, a man who had been a prince of Egypt stood on the edge of the Red Sea. Around him were hundreds upon hundreds of people, men, women, and children, waiting for him to make his move. Behind him were the chariots of the enemy, their thunder bearing down on the people, only a short distance away. Disaster was riding not far behind. Ahead of him were the waters of the sea: murky, roiling, hiding who knows what muddy and miry spots. What choice could Moses make? Where could he turn, what could he do? The situation looked utterly impossible. There was no good choice, the destruction on the one side, the unknown on the other, and lots and lots of folks depending on him. What could Moses do? How could there ever be a song of triumph out of this situation?
But Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still."
If you want to sing a song of triumph, you will have to make a courageous decision when decision time comes. If you want to sing a song of triumph at the end of it all, when it is time to decide, and there is no good place to go, you will have to make a decision. Maybe it won’t be the logical decision. Maybe it won’t be the decision that science or reason or logic would lead you to. But if you make the decision of the heart; if you make the decision that, in the depths of your spirit you believe God is leading you to make, then the song of triumph has begun.
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground.”
Moses had come to the deciding place. Down in his spirit, against all logic, he heard the voice of the Lord telling him to go forward. Go forward and not backward. Stretch out your hand, in faith, and lead your people toward the waters that seem so threatening. Move forward, Moses; take the way of courage, even though your people may not understand. If you want to sing a song of triumph, you will have to make a courageous decision when decision time comes. If you want to sing a song of triumph at the end of it all, when it is time to decide, and there is no good place to go, you will have to make a decision.