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On a recent work trip, I took a break to see Beautiful, the Carole King musical. I had not realized her songs' impact on me. I sat mesmerized as I heard the story of King's life woven together by songs she had written or co-written. I could sing along with every single song. They were not just the story of her life--I wondered if they had something to do with my own life and its trajectory as well.

How does music intersect with your story, and with your teaching or preaching ministry? I am learning the depth of access music can have to the most profound experiences and values of the people with whom we serve. What music do they love? Does music predominate in their hearing of a message? Or, do visual images? Perhaps the different forms of intelligence--kinesthetic, aural, naturalist, interpersonal, spatial, linguistic, and so on--give us a clue as to how to engage God's word, for ourselves and our communities.

As I read the texts for this Sunday, the song that came to mind was Steve Winwood's "Bring Me a Higher Love":

... There must be higher love,
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above.
Without it, life is a wasted time...
Bring me a higher love...
Where's that higher love I keep thinking of?

What is this higher love Jesus talks about in our Gospel text? How do justice and peace relate to it? And how do we bring it on home? 

Winwood's lyrics are a challenge. They push us to consider how to define a love that seems out of reach. Jesus tells us to pass his higher love for us on to others. What does this look like?

And what other music, images, or other media could capture our imagination of this commandment, to help us move from knowing to doing?

Emlyn A. Ott

Emlyn A. Ott is associate professor of ministry and pastoral leadership at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.

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