Advent simplicity that we don’t know.
The advent season reminds, restarts, and renews. As we remember and celebrate the arrival of Jesus Christ, the light of the world, everything literally stops and holds. The focus is on the star, the child, the light.
All of our worldly “lights” dim in comparison in respect and deference to the source. Don’t get me wrong, I love the candles, and the bells, with choirs and songs and stunning experiences envisioned and executed by men old and new but the simplicity of the child is unparalleled in its message and personal connection to my heart mind and soul.
For too long, I’ve focused on the buildings, the smells, sounds, and the singing. What matters is the smiles and the eyes of the hearts as they open and understand. The advent of the true king is a spectacle beyond the imagination of men. The best we can do is focus on a child and fall on our knees. We humble ourselves at the manger with its ugly, loud, decidedly unchurchy vision. The ox and the ass bow along with the sheep. The angels and the shepherds give honor and praise.
The king is here in this moment. He was, is, and will always be. Emmanuel, God with us, reminds us of HIS amazing love. He reminds us that OUR work is only just beginning. Advent is indeed the end of the beginning. The story we find ourselves in is not written nor is it complete even as it is fully known. It just isn’t known by you and me and that is alright.
Art (for me music) does not need a reason to exist. It is born of a divine spark. The artist is simply a conductor for the energy. Singing in church, on a stage, in any venue is a blessing but it isn’t required.
Sunday am thinking. I led in a local baptist church during the 2020 Covid crisis. TBH it cured me, of any desire to continue in leadership in that church into 2021. The overt willingness to do “nothing” except take care of self and institution coupled with submission to the govt authority in virtually all things, especially singing was deplorable and I could not do anything significant about it. Did i fail? Maybe. I don’t think so. For sure, I clarified the environment where we am best suited to work in vocational ministry. And it is not in a play a track, no real choir, pseudo praise team situation. I require respect for live,
elegant, structured and formed presentation. It is how I’m wired.
Will I ever seek out another minister of music and worship position? I honestly don’t know. I’m interested and passionate about the fellowship of believers, not the institutional legacy. Period. #ChoirIsLife
A church is a fellowship of people loving living and DOING life together. Not a place or a building, but those things are helpful.
For me. Doing life requires an attitude and practice of high quality music. I enjoy pop music for a bit, but the form structure and content are critical for me to be able to relate. I am an expert at blended worship music and design.
Including everyone (or at least most) in a giving (not getting) experience is opportunity of a worship service. Singing and praying are the collective activities that matter. Sitting and listening are NOT that important. Being entertained is a problem, not a benefit.
I go to a worship experience to submit and feel the fellowship. There is no desire for recognition. There is only the reality of mutual love respect and service through the creation of great music.
As a highly trained classical musician, performer, and choral champion I don’t fit in most fellowships in my area.
The events of 2020 exposed the worshiptainment culture. They exposed the overt desire of most churches to comply with secular governing authority above their own fellowship. They exposed the fear and lack of practical faith disease which is crippling Christians in America.
I’m seeking a “church”, a fellowship that will appreciate my contributions and allow me to serve as the musician and leader that I am. I pray that God will provide this fellowship for me locally. I have it virtually but my “doing life” model is not a part time thing. It isn’t just virtual. This is a challenge.
If you have this challenge too, reach out.
Doing life together and finding common ground to SING (unmasked) and serve with bold reckless abandon as God leads rather than “how we’ve always done it” is the goal.
Yes we should have a pipe organ.
Yes we should have a drum set.
Yes we should have a guitar and bass.
Yes we should have a great choir.
Yes we should have great congregational singing. Hymns and choruses and even chanting.
Yes we should welcome anyone anytime.
Yes we should have a beautiful facility.
Yes yes yes. These provide a ring of resources which blesses and binds with the power of faith hope and love.
Above all, it is the fellowship of the ring that matter most. It is precious and worthy but only in service to Jesus Christ not ourselves.
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love. The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. Amen.
If another chooses to share with you. JUST Listen and be with them. Do NOT equivocate and do NOT share how much you know because of YOUR pain. They wish to heal and seek the light not wallow in the morass of self pity. Beware dragging them into your story. Be with them In theirs. Resist the urge to solve. Seek solutions with them not for them. Period. And only if they ask. Above all be with them. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat. Does NOT mean to turn the issues and topics to you. True friends can do this as hard as it is.
There should be more songs about this.
Inspired by the fellowship of the ring.
If you think that making music is primarily about the right notes and right rhythms, you and I on different planets. Right notes and rhythms are maybe 25% of the experience. Maybe less. Sharing the soul of the performer, and the composer with form, style, choice and color across time and place is everything. Notes and rhythms are like bricks and boards. They are necessary to build a house, but useless to actually live in until they are assembled. #ChoirIsLife
Just imagine what could happen if the social media giants turned their full attention to unity. They could “tune” their algorithms to promote the areas and topics of agreement, the topics which bridge and connect disparate groups. Instead, there is this rush to be right and silence anyone who disagrees, promoted and prioritized with insidious efficiency. The effect is a population at war.
We cannot silence and silo ideas and people so brazenly and expect the dissent to just go away. The history of humanity proves this point beyond a reasonable doubt.
My solution is simpler than most would imagine.
— Sing together regularly seeking a spark of inspiration in texts and melodies. It must be done intentionally and actively. Church is a place to start. The discipline of singing within the group and achieving a shared sound of the soul is worthy of high regard. #ChoirIsLife
As to social media. The powers that be could change their approach if they wanted. They do not. These 21st century robber barons profit from the fighting and the attention of their addicted population (products)
Singing in a safe space is a way forward. We need to start somewhere in society. The local church and musicians are a critical step.
We as individual must step up and be the light. #JustSing
Authentic community (family) is what we all seek. A faith community must above all be authentic and honest. It’s focus must be on Jesus Christ and the great commission. Social services are not optional but neither are they the goal. If the seeker sees men first and foremost it is difficult, nearly impossible, to see the good news clearly. We must not be obstacles.
The choir and collective singing is in the heart of worship. It is powerful, indicting, and comforting, but not always comfortable. Your congregation is essentially a choir. The recent pandemic crisis has restricted almost all communal singing due to the numbers, aerosol science speculations, fear, and the reality that Covid is a serious and dangerous disease for many choral singers due to age, comorbidity and a whole series of issues and complications born out of congregating together.
Is worship suffering? Yes it is.
Are churches growing in the midst of this crisis? Not in nickels and noses that I can see. but maybe in other ways.
My premise is that the absence of congregational and choral singing has reminded us all of how important worship is to our wellbeing. It also exposes a critical gap in many churches engagement models. Fellowship, Sunday School for kids and adults, Bible Study, and Service projects are the lifeblood of our churches.. Worship is a reflection of service.. in a service. It is the lens, the metric, to evaluate our health. When we are faithful and submit to serve and love others… Worship will showcase our hearts.
We must sing together and share songs. This is about more than physical singing. It is about example. Singing is uncomfortable for many because it is an outward and public sharing of heart. This exposes us, and makes us vulnerable. We are so lucky that God covers us.
Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you.
The loss of choral singing is crippling our families, churches, schools, and society in general. #ChoirIsLife - Singing soothes the savage beast of our souls.
It will be safe to sing together “as we have always done it” when the medical establishment has an approved and recommended treatment plan in place for the different risk segments of the population. If we as a population have confidence that we can and will be be treated, given a fighting chance, we can move into a new normal.
Important points. <ASSUMPTIONS>
My choir rehearsals will resume and my congregations will be empowered and enabled to sing. Outside. Inside. All around. When... the medical establishment has an approved and recommended treatment plan in place for the different risk segments of the population.
My final thoughts for today's Thursday Singing thinking are:
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and sing and make a joyful noise... in every way, every day, as opportunities arise. We will not live in fear into the future. We will not lead in fear of the future. Things have changed indeed. We stand and sing together to be counted among the faithful.
Be strong in the Lord and be of good courage.
Goal: Growth and spiritual development occur in community and context
"I am amazed again and again how the mastery of successive minute technical details releases floods of spiritual understanding."
Robert Shaw in "Dear People"
"Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other." - Mere Christianity CS Lewis
To Worship and Lead WORSHIP dynamically and authentically.
I have a deep seated animosity directed at “disablers”
- those so willing to make things harder, point out their concerns, fixate on semantics and process points ... make every point about what they want
—- yet unwilling to step up and lead and create and build.
Complaining, whining, and disabling undermine the very foundation of group progress. #fighty.
- church, government, choirs, families...
the disabler list is easy to find inside dying organizations/institutions all around.
I’m looking for Christian musician(s) in MHC to work with me, teach me, and learn with me as we design/build transformative music performances for worship.
Heart of artist is critical... skills for arranging and exploring excellence in ALL styles... must be willing to blend classical liturgical traditions with contemporary/pop/jazz/rap —- to create a dynamic “flow”... guitar, bass, percussion, piano, organ, brass, winds.... all play parts... and Singing is the key. #JustSing
We will rehearse and plan and work at Rolling Ridges and around... schedule TBD
Bonus: familiar with concepts and expectations outlined in this important text by Rory Noland.
Intersection of principles and practices...