Meg is better--and so is the cat. Whew! Now will someone please bring back that nice Tennessee warm weather??? My coffee addiction is becoming a major problem!
I sang last night at a little church in Cleveland, TN. Sorry, awallens. Wrong state, I know. :) It's been quite a while since I've done a full-length concert; and to tell the truth, I was quite nervous. I've been puzzling over some significant issues related to my ministry for months: namely the difference between being "flexible" and being unwilling to be "professional." I wonder if I will ever figure it out... Yesterday's events showed me precisely why I need my flexibility... I sing in tiny churches--and I really prefer it that way. I like the fact that I can talk TO the people and not AT them... Going into a church where the musicians are just regular people, the technology is a little flaky sometimes, or there isn't a boomstand and we have to rig something unusual for me to play (Stuart Park didn't meet ALL of these "un-criteria") reminded me that I wasn't there to put on a show. I was there to give something to the people.
I also discovered how important it is for me to talk, not just sing... My music is just a tool in God's hands, and that was very powerfully driven home to me. The songs that I made the least mistakes on were the ones I played and sang after telling stories... The stories took my mind away from my weaknesses and put it on the message, and my hands and voice were really just instruments. As soon as I thought about the notes or how I wanted to express, I made a mistake... I felt like Peter walking on the water! Hmm... There IS something in the Bible about overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!
So why did I need the flexibility...? I had planned to do most of the songs from the CD... I had to stop. I wasn't wearing a watch, so I was not time-conscious. But I talked A Lot. There came a point when I felt a VERY familiar feeling in my spirit: a closed door. I literally could not think of one more thing to say, and my hands would not go back to the keys. Something inside me just said, "Stop." So I did. I said, "I sense that God is doing something, and I don't want to get in His way." There was a hymn sung, and they closed the service.
There was no big emotional response... There hasn't been when I have done concerts in the past. But it doesn't matter... One of the stories I told had to do with God meeting people outside the church building. Almost every significant encounter I have had with Him has been private. That's what I wanted them to take away with them. Somehow it doesn't seem right to drag on a moment of invitation after saying something like that.
Afterward, I had opportunities to interact with the people in abundance! What a joy! This was my favorite part! It really gave me a chance to experience people's reception--not just of me, but of the message! That's important since I can't see their faces... I talked with my friend after going home, and I realized that one thing I need to do is come up with some strategies for creating interactivity... I tried last night, but I noticed the group was timid. She said that might be a "Baptist thing." So I maybe need to work a little harder initially to let the audience know that I need that interaction.., especially if I'm hidden up behind the piano. I'm used to Church of God (Anderson) audiences; and while they can be rather sober in the services, they are quite lively whenever music or jokes are involved! And a Pentecostal audience would have been livelier still.
The people were so gracious, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to come and to stick around and meet everyone! I look forward to being back!
Thank you, Tennessee, for welcoming me!