Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Don't Squeeze the Life Out

Went to a local middle school chorus concert last night. One of the participants was a New Hope treasure, so we were excited to hear her sing. She's just started Middle School, so her group went first and sang a couple of songs - she was of course awesome - and the rest in her group were really good - best of the night in my humble opinion. After the beginning group she was in sat down, the next group composed of 7th and 8th graders sang, then the "Ambassadors" - the showcase group for the Middle School. Then the last group was introduced.

Our area is blessed with musical talent. The High School bands and choruses are really exceptional. Lots of the kids in them achieve "All State" honors. They are well funded and really have amazing talent. And yet the group which brought the most training and the most talent to the concert last night literally squeezed the life out of every song they sung. It was painful. It didn't help that they sang two songs that Bunny and I love - "California Dreaming" and "The Sounds of Silence."

Both songs have great stories behind them, and the artists that wrote and performed them weren't just playing or singing notes - they were telling their stories - raw, unpolished - real. But to hear the group last night, you might just as well have dropped your time machine into a victorian parlor or barbershop quartet convention. Yes they sang the songs, and probably hit every note in the arrangements. But it was lifeless. With no risk taken, no art was created. With every voice in tune and measured precisely, nothing great occurred.

I have to say that I'm constantly aware that the same thing can happen in church.

We can get so accustomed to working in our strength, skills, and programs that have worked before or are promised to work by the last conference speaker we heard, that we forget that the only "spiritual music" we can produce is through faith and by the power of the Holy Spirit. And remember, faith is being certain of that you cannot see. Sounds risky. Yeah and it is awesome, because when God acts you get to see it without any doubts about whether he was in it or not.

So we're attempting things at New Hope in the next few months that there's no way we can do. No way. And in the "doing", we'll undoubtedly mess up in some ways and fall short of the excellence some would bring to the events. But we'll give everything we have - we'll hold nothing back. We may hit a few wrong "notes" but it will be real live worship. Romans 12:1 in action.

Following Christ should make you feel more alive than ever. Don't squeeze the life out of it. Find your way to where God is at work and join Him there. LIVE. LOVE. LOUD.

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