Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Praise Him with the Electric Guitar"*

This morning I helped the praise team at a little church in Norman, OK usher in a new era of singing to the Lord.

I made a new friend in the library my first week of working there and she invited me to church that weekend. I had not been regularly attending anywhere in over six months, and I was glad to receive the invitation, but when I left the service I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back. The folks were friendly and the preaching held the Bible in high regard, even if the style and attitude of the sermon were not what I would seek out in a pastor. The music was played quite well, but was in a sort of sad state. It was just an electric keyboard, and electric drum-set, and a CD playing a track from a live worship album. I think they had been doing it that way for several years.

Word got out that I play the guitar, I jammed with the drummer and keyboard player, and now three weeks later I’m in the band. Today was a big day. They’ve wanted to “go live” (stop playing to a CD) for a long time, and have been praying for the right people to come along. I got a lot of handshakes (and a high-five from the pastor) and people told me I was an answer to prayer. I hope it’s true. I hope I’m really able to serve at this new place, and not just by playing guitar.

I had gotten quite comfortable NOT going to church. I read the Bible (almost) every day, I spend (at least a little) time praying most hours, and I listen to recorded sermons all week long from a variety of podcasts. I sing hymns at my piano, and I write checks every month to ministries I want to support. I mean, that about covers it, right?

I thought so.

But ever since I visited this church three weeks ago, I realized how terribly lonely my entire spiritual life is, and I was thrown into a soul-plumbing fit of searching and questioning and pulling my hair out over what it means to be a part of Christ’s body on Earth. And before I’d come up with any really good answers, I received a text message saying that they’d got the thumbs up to go live and I was needed this Sunday to play.

So here I am to worship, I guess. I enjoy hanging out with the other musicians, and it feels really good to get to play electric guitar again. This morning they asked for people to volunteer with the children’s ministry and I realized that I genuinely want to do that. I wouldn’t have chosen this church as a place to call home, but for now it looks like it has chosen me.

I have a sneaking suspicion that those “really good answers” I was trying to find are probably trying to find me, too.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm back in the saddle again.

If you are reading this, you are either A.)Lost, B.)More patient with me than I would have guessed, or C.)Responding to me directly telling you, "Hey, maybe my blog isn't dead after all!"

My last go-round with this thing burned me out, so I’m going to try a new approach. The previous posts on here meandered between overly-calculated memoir and this:

Actually, they were nowhere near as good as Jack Handey, though I do have another blog that is just as pithy (if not half as clever) as his wealth of wisdom. It’s called “My Feelings Are Symphonic And You Should Care About Them” and it’s here:

Because I KNOW I use at least 10 times as many words as are needed to say most things, I started “My feelings are symphonic” to challenge myself to share my thoughts one sentence at a time.

But I started “the smallest of voices” for those thoughts that aren’t directed at any one friend (and thus get blogged instead of put into a letter or a conversation), but also can’t be expressed in a single sentence.

I got carried away with trying to create something of lasting value (STORY OF MY LIFE… ask me about any of the albums I’m still… still… still… trying to write and record), and so I set up a format that I wasn’t capable of maintaining. I wanted to share some little story of something that had happened to me, but ground it in two complementary passages from the Bible. I never explained this, I just put the scripture references in the “Labels” section at the bottom of each post hoping people would notice the trend, look those verses up and say “A-ha! Steven’s daily experience is rooted in his knowledge of the Bible! He’s a good guy! He knows the Book! I’m learning something from this! My life can be clarified by viewing it through the lens of Divine Revelation as well!”

The problem is that I don’t know the Bible well enough to do that for very long. I’m reading through all of it this year (for the first time in my life), but that doesn’t mean I can call up any passage to memory at any time. I spent a lot of time at to create the posts I did.

So I’m going to try and do this more off-the-cuff now. Nobody expects anything different from me, and if any of you ARE here on purpose and are patient enough to have made it to this paragraph, 1.)Thank you, and 2.)I’ll try not to waste your time, even if I don’t spend much time writing these anymore.

Plus, I own both a legit camera and a phone that takes decent pictures now, so maybe I can type less and post more photos of what I’m doing. Which, frankly, isn’t much to look at. I moved into a new apartment and started a new job lately, and most of my time is spent at work, organizing my apartment, or composing. There is nothing picturesque about writing music.

And on that note, I’m going to get back to what I should have been doing the last half-hour instead of typing this; orchestrating my “songs for bugs.” I’ll be recording string parts next week for them. Maybe I’ll post the results…