Saturday, May 22, 2010

Did Our Concert Dishonor God?

We had our annual Randy Lawson Memorial Concert last night at PCC.

There was fun along the way, (including some bearded bluegrass dudes singing "Man of Constant Sorrow") some great original music (Seth Brooks and Mariah's Bedroom), songs that celebrated the joys and challenges of simply being human ("Show Me What I'm Looking For" and most of the MB set) and a touching tribute to honor the life of Randy Lawson.

Towards the end, though, there was a subtle shift in focus. Lindsay spoke briefly about the reason why we were there. Very pointedly, she stated this fact: "We believe in Jesus." And from that point forward, the songs we sang pointed directly towards heaven; songs based on scripture, filled with declarations of worship and reverence. At that moment, the evening ceased to be about mere entertainment and good music. It became something more. The crowd stood and together - both those on the stage and those on the floor - we were as one, letting the music carry our praise.

This was intentional.

There are some who argue for the separation of musical styles. Some folks say that there is no place in the church for music that does not talk clearly about Biblical themes, about Jesus and God and salvation. Some say that the song selection for a concert like we presented last night dishonors the gospel and our God.

I beg to differ. Actually, I strongly, vehemently disagree. I believe that all music can be redemptive. I believe that as humans cry out for clarity, salvation and purpose, the melody and rhythm of those cries are most easily communicated in art - specifically for us, in song. Consider these words:
"It's too late tonight/to drag the past out into the light
We're one but we're not the same/we get to carry each other, carry each other..."
That statement is basic to all human existence and interaction. It reflects a common understanding that is also Biblical - we are better together, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. That lyric is not, by any definition, from a "worship song" - but it reflects our hearts and helps us to open up to our own condition. Music can soften us so that the Spirit can move, regardless of the genre or the label we choose - or even the intentions of the writer.

On a night like last night, the tenderizing genius of talented songwriters was evident - from bands like U2, Natalie Merchant, Carolina Liar and - closer to home - songwriters like Seth Brooks and Paul Myers. These artists who offer their stories and experiences to the world give us a gift, the ability to open our hearts. They sing about a life that we can relate to, experiences that are universal and everyone's search for meaning and purpose. They acknowledge a power and force greater than ourselves. They allow us to journey with them.

At our concert, the various songs led us through celebration, smiles and even sheer entertainment to a place of transformation and redemption.

Last night, there were people on their knees in worship, overwhelmed by the inexplicable presence of God. I know - I was one of them. And I know that I was not the only one.

We did not celebrate ourselves last night. We did not celebrate a man. We celebrated the amazing, awesome, incomprehensible power of a God who did whatever it took to demonstrate his love for us. We thanked Him for it, and we felt His presence with us.

Your comments are welcome, especially if you attended the concert - on Facebook or at bethbrawley{dot}com.

8 comments:

Bill said...

I wasn't there but it all sounds good to me!

jPaulM said...

I guess the people who argue that there is no place for music like that don't want to reach out and bring non-Christians to church. Sometimes it is the more subtle, not so in-your-face "Jesus" tunes that help non-Christ followers feel comfortable and want to come back to church. That's what PCC is about! That's why I love it! And that's why I wanted to come back after visiting PCC that first time.

In my opinion, let them say what they want... it's OK to lose a few to gain hundreds. :)

Peace, Love, and Christian stuff like that... Amen.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I couldn't attend the concert even though I really wanted to be there. Your words, though, give us a small fraction of what an awesome night it must have been. Keep up the great work for His kingdom. Let those who would say that the concert honored a man understand that the evening in fact honored one man's faith in Jesus Christ and let them focus on helping others come to know Him as well.

Jeff Boggess said...

Must have been really good if the devil is complaining!

Connie K. said...

Wow. Many weeks we do "secular" songs either to lead into the Sunday service, or during the service to make a point about the message. I'm surprised that anyone would question that a concert- one that is not billed as a worship service, but includes worship in it - would have secular music. Simply because it's held in a church building, or sponsored by a church.

I heard nothing that would dishonor God in any of the songs. Many of the "secular" songs had a spiritual element to it. All of them spoke about the human condition. God made us with feelings, and experiences, and we muddle through life dealing with those experiences. That's what popular music addresses.

Karen Bonner said...

I enjoyed the all talents of the many people who performed. I personally, did not see or hear anything that would have dishonored God. The worship at the end was very powerful and yet the songs prior to that were entertaining and moving in their own unique way and style....and I am sure God was singing along with all of it and proud of those who were using the talents HE gave to them!

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charlieT said...

I was there. What an awesome well presented evening. The talent, the songs, and the prayers made one thing very clear...PCC exists because of and to worship an awesome GOD. I think we should do a monthly series!