Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Corinthians 13 in Action

We all recognize this famous passage from the New American Standard Bible:

Do we recognize people who love like this?

I know one.  His name is Joe Kounkel.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Music... As I See It

I love music. 

I love it for the opportunity it offers us to pray twice.  That's why I've been a liturgical musician my entire musical life.  I believe music is intrinsic to any Service.  Just like in any production, it sets the stage for what is about to happen, what has happened, and what is happening now.

I read an article once that said three things about liturgical music: 
  1. It must have holiness as its reference point and the musicians must have holiness in their hearts/centers.
  2. It must be obedient to the Word (logos), meaning it must bring us to the feet of Christ.
  3. It must add to the demands of enculturation, which is non-negotiable.
The article added other things.  Instruments, for example, better not drown out the voices.  And music should be humble; musicians need to let God do the work.  At the end, we need to avoid elitism and sing what people can sing.

So, in the end the questions are:  does the music serve the Service and the moment in the Service?; is it liturgical, pastoral, and musical?; is it good music that people can sing?

Music that I choose is sacred.  I have never played a song because it is pretty or someone can sing it well or its easy.

One year ago, I accompanied a group singing Amy Grant's CHRISTMAS LULLABY.  It's a beautiful advent song, calling to the lost and lonely spirits. 

My prayer in this song is something like this:
Are you far from home?  

Isn't home the Church?

Tell me what I can do to help?

I am the hands and feet of Christ.

Do you want me to give you some information about the Church?  Or do you want me to say "follow me" and show the way?

Because I will.
Isn't that what Advent is about?  Finding our way back to the hope and beauty and peace Christ offers? 

I think so.

So, is this song musically good?  Definitely.

Is it liturgically relevant?  Oh, YES!

Is it pastorally effective?  Halleluiah!

I was inappropriately reprimanded at full volume in the music room at church for playing this song, and eventually it led to me leaving the Church that was my home and the family that was my family of choice. 

It's too bad the title had the word "Christmas" in it.  Things may have gone a different way.


And, by the way, I never chose to use the song.  I was just playing the piano.

So the theory at home is that we shouldn't play anything during Advent that is a Christmas song.  We shouldn't allude to Christ's coming because it is a secret surprise. 

Weird, right?

Isn't everything we're about encompassed in Christmas?  The having come and the will come?  Isn't the "stay awake" command as addressed to us who are waiting for the second coming as important as the first command?  And isn't the celebration of the Christ child something to be celebrated every day and not treated as a surprise on Christmas?

I think if that's the case, it's weird that the readings this ENTIRE advent are about the disciples in action with Christ.  We get Him talking about the Flood, about John, and about the Birth (3rd Sunday, folks).  Christ wasn't afraid to celebrate His coming as if it were happening already.  Why are we?