Sunday, October 15, 2006

"This strange and wondrous event": A musician reflects on CONFESSIONS

Another email, this time from Nelson Boschman, who's pretty much become our de facto house pianist for gigs like CONFESSIONS and CHRISTMAS PRESENCE. (Not to be confused with our de facto house keyboardist, Brett, or our de facto house Hammond player, Chris, or... Anyhow.)

A nice companion piece to Kirsty's recent thoughts about the show.

For some reason I felt strongly compelled to stay home from church this morning and spend some alone time reading, journalling and reflecting. Among many other thoughts and feelings, I found myself thinking a lot about this strange and wondrous event of which we have all been a part. For what they're worth, I thought I'd share these thoughts with you...

From time to time I'm asked to describe CONFESSIONS/CHRISTMAS PRESENCE / TESTIMONY. No doubt you've all faced this challenge at various points. I told a colleague this past Friday morning (after Thursday's show), that CONFESSIONS was like church at its best, or, what I wish church was more like.

It reminds me of a family gathering; a potluck meal where everyone brings something, the head chef puts it all together, and the Guest of Honor graces us with His Presence in the midst of it all. It's loose and improvisatory, but far from carelessly thrown-together. There is attention to pairing food with drink (as with song or story to theme), but not in an obsessive or, worse, restrictive way. There is not too much preparation on the day of the meal itself, but rather the preparedness happens through the years of practice, trial and error which have taken place long before we gather together to feed our senses.

There is a certain order to things, but the predominant feeling is not that of confinement, but spaciousness. It's like a story, in which, as Henri Nouwen puts it, there is "room to walk around and find our place". There is excellence, but not elitism. And there are no show-offy, one-uppy attitudes. It's about contributing something as individuals which will only nourish and speak to people when combined and offered as a collective whole.

There is profound meaning, but not intellectual imperialism. There is beauty, but it is a beauty characterized by simplicity and grace, not outlandishness and superficiality. And perhaps above all, there is trust. We trust one another to bring our absolute best to the table. We trust that in the times we feel we're offering less than our best -- for whatever reason -- we will be accepted and welcomed anyway. We trust that the stories and songs we bring will help others pay attention to the Presence in the same way they have helped us do likewise. And we trust that when it is all over, God will have done far more than we can prepare for, ask or imagine.

Looking forward to the next potluck...

Soli deo Gloria,

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