Tough weekend at MSC, as we lost a special young nineteen-year-old girl to a fatal single-car accident on Friday. She was to turn 20 on Saturday, and our church--young as it is--had literally watched her grow up as her and her family have attended for virtually the entire nine-year life of our ministry. Couple that with the elation that comes with the 30+ baptisms we were celebrating at our Saturday services, and you certainly end up with a strange dichotomy of emotions--and maybe the very essence of the Christian walk.
We've been talking about the Olympics, and the feature tune this week was among the toughest we've ever tried to pull off--more on that later. As we began services on Saturday, we knew the weekend was going to be tough, and I really feel as though we did a great job in worshiping right through the emotional duality in the room. We called it out before we even got started. Just before we sang, I just wanted to name the reality that we were facing. We were staring untimely death and undeserved new life in the face simultaneously... wow. And we worshiped. The setlist, solidified and rehearsed long before the tragedy befell us, was eerily poignant:
Forever - Chris Tomlin
Blessed Be Your Name - Matt/Beth Redman
The Least I Can Do - M. Roach
feature tune - Running On Ice (Billy Joel)
I Stand Amazed - Passion arrangement
All Because of Jesus - Steve Fee
'Blessed Be Your Name' is among the most sung modern worship songs in the country, and most of know that it really shines in the face of tragedy. This weekend, the simple repetitive declaration in the bridge absolutely sucker-punched me... You give and take away | You give and take away | my heart will choose to say | Lord, blessed be Your name. When all was said and done, we simply gave God glory and honor as we attempt to do every weekend, and it felt like the absolute appropriate response to both facets of our emotional state. God is good.
As for the feature tune, Billy Joel's 'Running On Ice,' the piano part alone makes it one of the most difficult songs we've ever tackled--especially considering I played it and I'm not really a piano player. I practiced for hours this week, mainly just trying to nail-down the intro and a ridiculous transition into a quick piano interlude. We recorded some little sound nuggets and artifacts as tracks that we played along to which gave it a little bit more flavor of it's 80's origin, then added some filtered video a la A-Ha's famous 'Take On Me' video. It certainly didn't look like animated charcoal drawings in our version, but it was a cool effect. Of course, all of this came crashing down at the 11am Sunday service when a mute was inadvertently pushed on the channel that contained our click-track. The video started--and restarted--several times (without the click in our ears) before we finally decided to jump ship on the video all together and use our regular metronome. This meant we were going to play it w/ no tracks, which wasn't that big of a deal until we realized half way through the first verse that the video was still playing up in the booth, and now the little sound nuggets and artifacts were bursting through the mains at random times with no rhyme or reason... yeah, it pretty well fell apart. But, the tracks were eventually muted when the video eventually stopped, and we somehow pushed our way through the tune and survived the service... with a few compliments on the feature tune, even :) Ah, nobody's perfect... and technology had it's way with us at 11am this Sunday. If nothing else, we learned something.
I'm doing something new this week, and I'm posting this confessional in collaboration with other Worship Leaders as a part of Fred McKinnon's Sunday Setlists