I can't tell you who was singing the song "Blue Moon" when I first heard it but I suspect it was by Bobby Vinton. It was a nice enough song with lyrics that spoke to an adolescent's heart: "Blue moon, You saw me standing alone, Without a dream in my heart, Without a love of my own."
Only much later, did I hear the version done by The Marcels years earlier. It was the same song but done with the energy that only a rhythm and blues group could provide. Vinton sort of strolled through the song, but the Marcels raced through the song as if they couldn't wait to the next note...the next word.
I didn't think anyone's version could improve on the Marcels, and then I heard Elvis Presley's recording of "Blue Moon." Presley was early in his career, recording for Sam Philips at Sun Records in Memphis, and the song is haunting. The studio echoes with Elvis' voice as the singer turns the simple ballad into an anguished lament. Years later, I heard the same song done in an entirely new way by a Canadian alternative country and folk band who recorded the song in an old church building.
Why all this talk about a song and all the different ways it has been recorded?
We're talking about the Bible in this sermon series we're calling Inspired, and the truth is that the Bible is a living and active word (Hebrews 4:12). One of the things it means is that every generation is given the task of interpreting the text for a new day. That doesn't mean forcing the Bible to say what we want it to say, but it means engaging the text, the setting in which it was written, and seeing what it is saying to our day within the larger context of the God who becomes most visible in Jesus Christ.
All of us, in every generation, in every faith community (even the ones with neon signs announce that they are "Bible Believing"), must interpret these ancient texts and apply them to our contemporary reality.
The same song but musicians seeing something in it that others may have missed. The same song but musicians finding in it something that speaks to a new day.
The Bible is a living word. The core truth remains the same but every generation must engage the word, dialogue with the word, and see what God is saying today.
See you Sunday as we continue Inspired and look at war stories!
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