August 28, 2011

Music and involvement in a new church

Posted in Personal impact/anecdotes at 6:20 am by sanguinemare

I am so blessed with music.  I’m certainly not the best at it, and for how long I’ve taken lessons, I’m definitely not as good as I should be.  But I thank God that my mom gave me the opportunity to learn music at such a young age, and that I was able to appreciate it from very early on.  Music is such a joyful, expressive thing, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

I’ve discovered I especially love music when I’m using it for worship.  I love being on worship team – it just makes me feel so connected to God, and so thankful for whatever talents he has given me.  Since being on worship team as a violinist a couple years ago, I’ve wanted to keep it up.  But the year after graduating college, I moved home and didn’t really have a home church, so besides just playing around for fun occasionally, that was it.  The next year, (last year), I’d wanted to do more on worship team, and prayed about it, but circumstances were such that I couldn’t really do much about it.  This year however, that prayer has definitely been answered, as far as I can tell:

Today, I went to worship team practice for the first time at this new church.  To give a little background, since I have recently moved (within the last 2 months or so), I have only just started going to this church for about a month.  When I first went, I was pretty impressed by the worship team, in the sense that all of the members were really young (8th-9th grade), and yet they played their instruments quite well.  They had a pretty full band too: acoustic and electric guitar, keyboard, vocals, and even drums.  However, I could also see areas where they could use a lot of guidance – the songs lacked energy, there were intonation problems, improv could improve, the endings were abrupt, etc.  So I asked around about how I would go about joining the worship team, and was told to come to practice on Saturday night at 7:30pm.

Today, after a long day of studying at school, I drove the ~20 minutes to church.  I was pretty drained for the day, but I still wanted to help out if I could.  So the drummer’s dad (who helps set up stuff for the youth group) gave me a brief introduction to what they usually do, and told me I would be  just observing today, since the high schoolers could “run on their own.”  I was a little disappointed, and wondering whether it would be rude of me to make suggestions during their practice if I was just observing…

Since they were still waiting for people, I asked if I could use the piano nearby, and started playing some of the songs for fun, because I hadn’t played piano in a while.  After a bit, the team “leader” (of sorts), a 9th grader, came up to me to ask if I could fill in as singer, since one of them couldn’t make it.  I was amazed – it was the perfect in.

So we picked out some songs – some that were new to some of the members, and went through them.  These kids are a talented bunch.  They caught on really quickly to each new song/suggestion, and for their age, I was impressed at how organized they were.  Yes, they would get distracted and talk about other stuff sometimes, but overall, they were quite disciplined and could easily be diverted back on track if they were called to.  Musically, they are very strong, and could modulate or change tempos and sections with ease.  They just need someone to guide them.  I told them to keep up the speed in one area so we could keep the energy level up, and they did it wonderfully… until the end where they cut it off abruptly as usual.  After I mentioned that, they tried it a couple different was and it came out amazing.  I could see the smiles on their faces – the exhilaration as they really got into it and saw how cool it could be.

Afterwards, I was talking to the drummer, who actually plays piano seriously and has gotten awards for it.  He/they had all taught themselves how to drum, which is pretty amazing.  Anyway, he can play amazing classical piano, and could even name each chord he was playing as he was playing it… yet he kept saying how he didn’t know how to improv.  I figured anyone who actually knew all the chords they were playing should be able to just improv based on given chords, so I asked me to show me what he usually did on worship team.  He was kind of self-conscious, but he did it – and it was just single chords at each chord change.  So I showed him some things he could do, and then he and the team leader both just started jamming away on the piano, and the other girl vocalist joined them by singing, and then went to grab her guitar and jammed away with them.  They picked it up so quick, and they just kept at it for fun, laughing at the random sounds they were making – which actually sounded pretty good by the way.  Clearly, these three love music.  I can already tell they are going to be way better than me by the end of this school year, if not by the end of this calendar year.

I have found my purpose, at least right now in this church.   That joy of discovery – of realizing you can do something you didn’t realize you could do before – is so great.  And to see a group of young people so passionate about music… it’s just really awesome.  I really want to see them grow, and to be more confident about themselves and their abilities.  And also to help them grow as Christians – to be awed and humbled by the talents God has given them, and to be able to use them to worship Him more.

I’ve been feeling a little lost myself these days – not as anchored as I’d like to be.  But this has given me a purpose and a stronger commitment, to this church, and to my promise to God to help His people.  Unlike many situations with people that leave me feeling really tired and exhausted, I felt energized, which is something I noticed about being with church people last year too.  🙂  Praise the Lord 🙂

At the end, the leader called everyone for an announcement. “[crimsonstallion] is going to be singing every week with us from now on.  All in favor say aye!” A unified chorus greeted my stunned expression.

August 22, 2011

A new blog – Interesting Christian Tidbits

Posted in Random Interesting Facts at 4:33 am by sanguinemare

I decided to start a new blog today – one on any interesting things I find out or hear about the Christian faith.  I figure I’ll never have enough time to transcribe all my church notes, and it’s not much use anyway if I just have them squirreled away somewhere, so may as well post it somewhere where other people can benefit from them.  Plus, I’m really interested in the different ways the text can be interpreted, the way knowing the original Greek/Hebrew can deepen one’s understanding of the text, how the history and archaeological findings tie in with the text, and just any random cool factoids about the Bible or Christianity-related things.  So this will be a way for me to record all of those.

An example is the passage where Jesus says it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle.  This was just touched on briefly in church today, but it made me remember how sometime last year, someone at church clarified the meaning of the allegory.  It seems like such a random choice of objects – a camel (of all animals), and a needle (sure, it has a small hole, but why not just say anything smaller than a camel?)   Apparently, the “needle” was actually a very narrow gate in the city of Jerusalem, which was the only gate that was open at night after the main gate closed.  It was too narrow for a camel to pass through, so only people could get through, and if they wanted to bring their wares with them, they had to wait until the next day.  That’s how I understood it anyway.  Wikipedia says something slightly different, but also suggests that no such structure has been found, so it’s not certain if that is true or not.  Wikipedia also suggests that this phrase may have been a mistranslation, and that camel (kamilos) was a misprint of kamêlos, which apparently means “rope” or “cable.”  Either  way, both make more logical sense than the initial interpretation of the metaphor, so I thought that was interesting.

Also, did you know the band Hillsong is from Australia?  I didn’t for the longest time. (Just happened to be listening to some of their songs haha)

That’s all for today!