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.

Want Some Free Stuff?

Music can be so redemptive.

Tonight, I experienced a sweet sort of redemption.

We spent four hours prepping for tomorrow’s Randy Lawson Memorial Concert. We’ve done it every year since Randy passed; he was passionate about the building plans for PCC and the concert has been a major fundraiser for several years, in honor of Randy’s desire that the church keep moving forward to reach people.

It’s a huge challenge, both from a programming and technical perspective. We’ve always tried to manage a pretty big crowd of musicians; sometime we bring in special guests. It’s always a good bit of work.

And I’ll be honest – these past few weeks have been pretty overwhelming for me personally. The challenge of the concert felt really burdensome this year. Our team has been hard at work to make it a great experience, but I was struggling to find my adrenaline.

Well.

Our redemptive moment came tonight in the midst of a ton of hard work from Matias Seibert. Technically, things moved smoothly. We did our sound checks. And then we started to play.

A few opening songs from the PCC band, and we got warmed up. Then a group of bluegrass musicians from PCC did several songs – brilliant. Perfect timing, amazing harmonies – and Lance Seal, home from college, working some banjo magic.

A few more PCC songs, designed to remember the original point of the concert – to honor a good man and preserve his memory – and have a GREAT time!

Then Mariah’s Bedroom, a band made up of PCC folks doing all original material; straight up rock and roll with great, meaningful lyrics.

Then more PCC music, ending with a worship set.

I looked around tonight and saw some amazingly talented people on the stage. I looked back and saw some intelligent and talented folks created lighting effects and putting cables and instruments in place, running sound and setting up graphics. I saw musicians I have known for years singing their hearts out – in rehearsal – and obviously enjoying every second. I watched the musicians come down off the stage and set up all of the chairs – for you. Eventually, I sang and I played and I enjoyed the tremendous gift of making music with others, focused on not only what we are creating but Who we are creating it for. Tonight’s rehearsal redeemed a long week and a good bit of anxiety.

I cannot wait for tomorrow. I think it’s going to be the best concert we’ve done.

We’re working hard. We’re ready for you. And just in case you’re on the fence about coming, I want to offer you some free tickets. We still have some available – you can pick them up at the door or contact the office to get yours tomorrow. But if you want some FREE, you can do this:

Leave a comment here. Tell me why you want these tickets.

At noon tomorrow, we’ll draw two winners. Each one will receive TWO tickets to tomorrow’s show.

And if you don’t win? Dig deep – support the building fund and Randy’s vision for PCC – and come anyway. You won’t regret it.