Music and Me

I do think about it sometimes, about what my work and life in music could be if I were not a Priest. Occasionally I ponder the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights that would be open, the Sunday mornings that could be used for travel or practice, and lack of sudden and unanticipated schedule changes that are part and parcel of ministry. I do admit, at times, to a little bit of envy when I see people who have shows on Friday nights in Lent when I am helping to serve an Akathist, or on those feast days when I need to be in Church. I know, too, that my status as a Priest can make it harder for me to be the right “fit” in a group and “fit” is so important to make music together. I do think about things like that from time to time.

Usually, though, the “what ifs” don’t last too long. I’m a Priest before I’m a musician and not just a musician that shows up at church a lot. True, there are days when I would like to be out on stage with the boys but mostly I’m happy and content on what I consider to be, for lack of a better term, the greatest “stage” of all, the altar of any Orthodox church. I love music but I know that the eternal things are of greater value and duration. A hundred years from now no one will remember my music but what I can do to bless people as a Priest may last that long on this earth and perhaps, by God’s grace, for eternity in the world beyond this.

I do get to make music, of course, for myself and the experience that comes with sitting alone and pondering the world with an instrument in my hands (an experience I highly recommend for others), the good folks I serve at my senior residence, and every so often a public performance. I love to make music in groups (something that comes from years of playing the bass, a very group dependent instrument), but slowly but surely doors are also opening up for me as a solo performer and hopefully as a songwriter as well. I simply trust that if there is a divine plan for me that includes music the songs and situations will happen. That being said I know there is a divine plan for me as a Priest, even if its only to show the world that God has a sense of humor.

In the end I wouldn’t really want it any other way. Jesus is just too amazing, too important, and too wonderful to be anything but at the top of my priorities. Although I’m far from perfect I believe what He is, what He has to teach us, and what He offers to us is the most beautiful kind of music, healing, and life for the whole of who we are. If I try to have Him front and center everything else will find its proper place. While I play a number of instruments I, as best as a struggling human can do, want to be His harp.

In the end that’s what really matters.

 

On Johnny Cash…

and the relationship between his faith and his music.

The tension between the flesh and spirit, between things of this earth
and things of heaven, animated all of Cash’s music. It’s what drew
audiences to him generation after generation. Sin and redemption, good
and evil, selfishness and love, and the struggles of living by a
standard set not by man but by God — all were driving forces in Cash’s
work and life.

Read more here

A Response…

to an article in Patheos regarding why men don’t sing in Church.

In the Eastern Orthodox Churches people have been and are encouraged to sing as they can and have done so since day one (which for us is over 2000 years ago). We do, as well, have trained choirs and often those who lead the worship can be quite talented in music, although this doesn’t have to be the case. I think the problem in some parts of American Christianity these days is a flawed theology of worship. Worship is “liturgy”, from a Greek word whose forms are found in the Bible and translated “The work of the people”. What this has historically meant is that the worship service is a joint task of all the people gathered, with leaders and participants of various kinds, and the focus is a corporate effort to worship God. The various forms and structures, including the music, are to be designed to fulfill this end and the beauty, or the beauty of simplicity, they possess are to draw the hearts of those who worship towards the One who is beauty, namely God. The goal of this worship, however, in our contemporary culture, has too often been directed towards producing an emotional or conversion experience rather than being understood as purely an offering of praise to God. Worship, in the proper historic Christian sense, is not about us, our feelings, or whatever we may get out of it at all, it is about the fact that God is worthy to be worshiped and that we as human beings are called upon to do this. Interestingly enough when a Christian takes themselves, their needs, or their desires, out of worship, they bring themselves to a depth of the sense of the presence of the Holy One that can be quite profound.  The antidote to spectator worship should begin with a correct theology of worship. Teach this and  implement it and in time people will understand and take place among the active worshiping faithful.

Woke Up This Morning…

with My Mind on Jesus.

Well, woke up this mo’nin
With my mind, stayin’ on Jesus
Woke up this mo’nin
With my mind, stayin’ on Jesus
Halleluh, halleleluh

Well, singin’ an prayin’ with my
Stayin’ on, Jesus
Singin’ and playin’ with my mind
Stayin’ on

Well, stayin’ and playin’
Halleluh, halleluh

Well, walkin’ an talkin’ with my
Stayin’ on
Walkin’ an talkin’ with my mind
Stayin’ on, Jesus

Halleluh, halleluh

Well, singin’ and prayin’
Stayin’ on, Jesus
Singin’ an playin’ with my mind

Halleluh, halleluh.

Powerful Story…

on two deaths from the WWW site “Death to the World“.

After seeing the video of his funeral I was thinking about him. I also experienced the desire to pray for him and I felt a loss that there are so many like him who are slaves to the nihilism that pervades and permeates us as a mode of being in our current world or perhaps more accurately we may state the present nihilism to be quite “natural” and well suited to the Fallen World and an outworking of the continuing spirit of the age opposed to God Incarnate in Christ.