Est. 1896

T. 718.426.5997

sunnychurch@verizon.net

Sunnyside Reformed Church

A Christian Community Church Making Christ Known Through Word & Deed

From the Pastor's Desk Rev. Neil Margetson

Spring 2017, NM

 

I was listening to a live recording of The Grateful Dead while I was writing this the other day. It’s said to be a historic show. Some say the best ever. Ithaca NY 1977. I saw them perform several times back in the day and take it from me - when they were good they were amazing. The first time I saw them I wasn’t really all that familiar with their music. I’d been introduced to the album Live Dead living in the dorm at my first college and I liked it. My girlfriend at that time did know about them and she bought us tickets to see them at The Fillmore East. That was in 1970.

 

I loved the Fillmore. My friends and I saw a lot of amazing shows there. We’d just bop down to the East Village on any given Friday or Saturday night - buy tickets from scalpers who were always there - and voila! I saw The Jimi Hendrix Experience with Sly and The Family Stone as the opening act in 1967 or 68. Saw BB King with Johnny Winter opening. Saw Miles Davis with his electrified band. They played without stopping for an hour and a half.

 

I’m not sure what I expected when we went to see The Dead that night, but as soon as they started the first tune it was magic. Pure lift off. I remember watching Jerry Garcia perform and thinking, Why shoot...he’s just a chubby little guy. They were all in t-shirts and jeans. Did not look like rock stars. Not like Hendrix did or The Beatles or The Stones. But the music. The music was transcendent. I saw them twice more...once at Winterland Ballroom and once at Hunter College I think. And to be honest, the show at Hunter was flat. I mean they were alright, but they never quite ignited. They were like that, The Dead. If inspiration didn’t show up they just went through the motions.

 

The show I’m listening to now reminds me of that night at The Fillmore. What I realized some time ago, is when a band like The Dead is on - the whole room gets synched. All the minds start communicating on the same wavelength. When that happens miracles follow. It’s a lot more than entertainment. A lot like what happens during traditional religious rituals in hunter-gatherer societies - with the drums going for eight, nine, ten hours. People dancing until - one by one they fly off into the world of the spirit.

 

We need a lot more of that today. Bands that play music that means something. Music that goes someplace. Don’t get me wrong. There’re some good musicians out here. Some I like. And the jazz scene is filled with artists of depth and integrity. But in the world of rock and pop way too much of it is about being polished. About production quality and gimmicks. I’ve noticed that a lot of the new songs have no real melody. Just a riff or two repeated for three or four minutes. The result is that the songs never get up a head of steam. There’s no momentum. They just putter along.

 

The thing is that life is like that. You can live it for appearances - learn a couple of riffs and repeat them endlessly - or you can live for the substance of things - for the purpose. Not much doubt in my mind about how Jesus did it. Just solid shows every time. It’s what we’re aiming for here at Sunnyside Church. An experience that cuts to the heart of things. Worship that lifts you up and brings you out of yourself. Worship that brings minds and spirits together in harmonious synchrony. Worship that invokes The Holy Spirit. I think we’re getting there.

 

Blessings – Pastor Neil

Organized in 1986, the Sunnyside Reformed Church is a proud member congregation of the

Reformed Church of America

Sunnyside Reformed Church

48-03 Skillman Avenue

Sunnyside, N.Y. 11104

 

T. 718.426.5997

sunnychurch@verizon.net

 

A Christian Community Church Making Christ Known Through Word & Deed

 

Est. 1896