“This next song is for a wonderful man, Pastor John Van Sloten…”
When Roger Hodgson said those words at his Calgary concert last night I was floored! My only response was, “Ohhhh shit!”. And as he went on to sing Hide in your Shell, a song that saved my life as a teen, I just sat there overwhelmed; singing along, tears pouring down my face and overjoyed at a God who would do this!
Four years ago I preached a sermon entitled, “How God used Supertramp (Roger Hodgson) to Save my Life”. In that message I spoke at length about the healing influence of Hide in your Shell and other Hodgson songs. A few weeks after preaching that sermon CBC reporter Russell Bowers brought it to Roger’s attention during an interview. Then he took this photo of Roger holding an iPad with a screen grab from the sermon of me preaching on him. A few weeks later I got an email from Hodgson’s manager letting me know how much he appreciated listening to the message, along with an invitation to come to Roger’s next Calgary concert.
Not only did we get to go to the concert, but we were also given backstage passes. After waiting in the fan photo line up, I walked up and introduced Fran and myself and Roger gave us this huge smile (he’s such a gentle, loving man… everyone felt it at the concert!). He asked if we could stay and talk after he was done with the photos. Then his handlers ushered us to his dressing room.
While we waited, his manager (Linda) spoke with us (she is as loving as Roger is) and again thanked me for the sermon. She said that the reason the concert started 20 minutes late was that Roger was re-watching the message!
And then after five minutes Roger arrived and we talked. Again, he thanked me for the sermon. “I’m not much into preachers, but you’ve got it right… keep spreading the love.” After gushing like a teenager for a few minutes I told him about what was going on in me as he played that song, “When I was a kid I didn’t know that God was saving me through your words. When I preached that sermon four years ago I named that fact for the first time. And as you played it tonight (once the shock faded) it felt as though I heard God’s voice in behind your voice, in real time!”
The whole time in his dressing room we were hugging. Roger kept rubbing our backs and embodied such a humble, loving and thankful demeanor. “I’m the one who’s been blessed,” he said. “I don’t even really write those songs… I just receive them when they show up.” We talked about how important ‘getting out of the way’ is when it comes to divine inspiration.
The whole time we’re there Fran and I couldn’t believe what was happening. It felt as though God was putting his imprimatur on our ministry and our calling to listen for his truth everywhere; affirming again, in dramatic fashion, his everywhere presence in our lives. I told Roger that I’m now inspired to preach for the next 15 years!
And I am.
This morning Fran and I are still shaking our heads. What a beautiful parable God has spoken; “The parable of Roger Hodgson’s otherworldly impact on an unknown (yet fully known) Canadian kid.”