Faith Matters

Changing life's tune with all that jazz

Applying a bit of 'jazz' thinking to life and introducing acts of generosity and encouragement can be infectious, says the Rev Andrew Watson

Rev Andrew Watson, minister of Dunfanaghy and Carrigart Presbyterian Churches

THEY say it's good to have a hobby. Some people play golf, others collect stamps. I love playing guitar.

While I'm hardly good enough to be professional, I am permanently hooked. There's hardly a day goes by when I don't pick it up and have a wee strum.

A lot of it is the same old stuff I've played for ages, but sometimes I manage to figure out something new and get pretty excited, playing it over and over ad nauseam, driving everyone else in the house crazy.

Recently I have been experimenting with some alternative chord shapes and progressions, trying for a more jazz feel.

I don't know all the techniques or musical theory, or even the names of chords I'm playing at times, but my own little theory is this: it seems a jazz chord is just a variation of an ordinary one - most of the same bits are there, but maybe just one note is different, giving the whole thing a softer sound; it sounds unfinished, like there might be the possibility of more. I like that.

And I am wondering could I try and apply my little theory to my whole day today - and, if it works, maybe tomorrow too.

A lot of the things in life are like fixed notes. They are essential and really cannot and must not be changed.

But here and there we'll find the opportunity for a 'jazz note' - a word or action, a simple kindness perhaps - that will bring a little softness and gentleness into the equation and open a door to new possibilities.

It won't solve all the issues and heartaches, but it will prolong the melody, and might just keep us humming a while longer.

The Bible doesn't mention jazz per se, but one character whose life I think might test my hypothesis is a Christian mentioned in the Book of Acts.

He came from Cyprus and was called Joseph, but because of his generous attitude of concern towards others, the Apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, meaning 'the encourager'.

Here's how he is described in Acts 11: "He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith."

When Barnabas was around, lots of people were persuaded to follow Christ. His testimony to Jesus combined with his 'jazz notes' proved infectious.

Look for the 'jazz notes' in your life today - they are worth finding.

:: The Rev Andrew Watson is minister of Dunfanaghy and Carrigart Presbyterian Churches in Donegal. Further information at and Mr Watson has a website at

:: Dunfanaghy Presbyterian Church will host a special service at 10.30am this Sunday, September 13, as part of the annual Dunfanaghy Jazz and Blues Festival which begins today.

"Among the artists taking part are the Limavady Big Band, a number of whom have volunteered to assist in our worship service in Dunfanaghy Presbyterian Church," said Mr Watson. The service will be broadcast live on Highland Radio.

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