The Gospel of The Highwomen: Parts and the Whole

Everyday this week, the Amazon music app recommended that I listen to them.

Everyday this week, I ignored the app and asked Alexa to play something else—until Saturday.

The reason I had ignored the recommendation for so long was that I’d already decided that the Highwomen were not my cup of tea. Or perhaps my preferred brew would be a better analogy. Dubbed a “female super group,” I recognized all but one of the members’ names. I’ve heard Brandi Carlisle on the radio for years. Maren Morris is a well-known name. Amanda Shires is a phenomenal fiddler. The only member whose name was unfamiliar to me was Natalie Hemby, but a quick Google search revealed some of the songs she’s written were very familiar.

All four women are gifted, wonderful artists. While I enjoyed occasional, individual songs by them, I never felt invested enough to buy their solo albums. I didn’t even feel connected enough to their music to add them to my Amazon Prime library. My reaction to Amazon was, “Thanks, but not for me.”

But goodness gracious, it’s creepy how Amazon knows us so well, and how the app would not quit recommending them.

After seeing a post on Instagram from their performance at the Newport Folk Festival, I finally decided to give them a listen. I said to my Amazon Echo, “Alexa, play the Highwomen.”

She replied, “Shuffling songs by the Highwaymen.”

I jumped in, “No, Alexa, stop music, and be a feminist.” She paused. Blue light circled the device. “Alexa, play music by the HIGH- WOMEN.” I spoke as slowly and loudly and clearly as possible. It worked.

“Shuffling songs by the Highwomen,” she said. (Does anyone else refer to their voice-activated device as “she” and politically correct her/it? What kind of world do we live in now?)

There were only two songs available, and I’ve already listened to each of them three times. The Highwomen went from not on my list to high on my list. I was missing out on music that resonated with me because I had made assumptions based on the parts of the group and not the whole.

...the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
— Colossians 2:19

The New Testament is full of analogies about the body of Christ being like, well, a human body. Each part has its purpose, lived out in relation to the rest of the body, the whole. The Highwomen has four fabulous parts, but the whole group has a sound distinct from the individuals. In my primitive, personal opinion, these four artists bring out the best in each other when they sing together.

So it is in the body of Christ—and in the Church. God has created us to bring out the best in each other for the good of the whole. I am better able to appreciate the Highwomen as individuals after hearing them sing together. Community helps us to see and hear one another differently, and from that community, “God gives the growth.”

The Highwomen’s first album does not release until September, but one of their already-released singles is titled, “Crowded Table.” May the table where you worship this Sunday, and the community where you are growing in relationship with Jesus Christ, be a place crowded with excitement for the God who makes us whole.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian