ABBA is back! After 39 years,! The members of this highly successful Swedish group are now between 71 and 76 years old. The first letters of the first names of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson yielded the name ABBA. Their popularity skyrocketed after they won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. Since then, you may wonder which is Sweden’s most famous trademark: Volvo or ABBA?
Why is the group making its unexpected comeback now? The Swedish foursome is not in financial distress. They have sold some 350 million records and the royalties still keep coming in. Is it pure nostalgia? Can’t they resist the urge to taste the success of yesteryear one more time? Is it a question of now or never (again)?
There is something special about their come-back. Not only are they recording a number of songs for a new album in the studio, but there will also be a concert on a stage in London. This will be a very special concert. Because the stage will not be taken by four elderly people. The audience will get to see a rejuvenated version of their idols. A kind of holograms will be made of the four of them. With a large number of cameras, every movement and mannerism was captured, with the result that the three-dimensional virtual avatars will give the audience the illusion that they are taking a trip back in time, and attend a concert of a group of thirty-somethings.
Many peers of the ABBA group might also want to undergo a radical rejuvenation treatment. That thought did cross my mind for a moment as I celebrate my birthday today. And yes, it would be nice to be able to relive certain things from the past. And especially to be able to visit certain places and meet people again whom I have not seen for many years. However, the reality is that the clock keeps ticking away, and even the ABBA members cannot stop the passage of time with their technical feats.
None of us knows how much time is given to us. We do know that when we–just like Agnetha, Björn, Anni-Frid and Benny—are in our seventies, we are well past the halfway mark. For some at that age, a considerable number of healthy years may still lie ahead.
My wife and I had the great pleasure of attending a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, with Herbert Blomstedt conducting, at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw last night. Since over the years we have become friends of his, he had invited us to come to the conductor’s room after the concert to have a short visit. He is now 94 years old, still with a wonderful vitality and with a full concert schedule. When I see him standing on the podium I think: How fantastic would it be to reach such an age in such good health.
However, life comes one day at a time. And it is important to be grateful for every day that is given to us, and this is even more true as we can look back upon another year. I begin a new year with a sense of gratitude, with the hope that I may remain healthy and be able to do something meaningful for others–for my immediate loved-ones, but for others as well, and especially for the church of which I am a part. When I stand in the pulpit, the audience must accept that I will not undergo an ABBA-like rejuvenation process. Hopefully that will be somewhat compensated by the fact that I still have something meaningful to say.