Whoo! Awesome and vibrant church time today!
This morning, I helped lead worship at Holy Family Anglican in Brampton. Their preacher, Rev. Carol Langley, used to be an Associate Priest at St. John's York Mills years ago. She was visiting this summer and we got to talking, and today was the result.
Carol had this great idea of a service called "Give Me That Old Time Religion", and all the music would be good old standard hymns. Completely up my alley! We met for a great planning session and picked hymns like "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "In The Garden", and "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms".
Before the service, I did a few soft hymns, including something very special: my own arrangement of "Jesus Loves Me". What makes it special is that it is the first genuine arrangement that I've written all on my own. For many years, I've co-arranged, with me singing a song the way I want to do it, and some other brilliant musician finding the chords and accompaniment to fit my version. But this time, I found my own chords and chose my own picking pattern. The tune is basically the same, but I've just given it a different feel. So proud of myself! Definitely a new step in my own musical journey.
I lead a lot of the hymns on guitar, and I was also joined by their music leader, Sergei, who added keyboard and electric bass to several songs. Gerald joined in on tambourine and djembe, and we had shakers in the pews for the congregation.
Carol gave an awesome sermon called The Irreligious Jesus. She basically posed the question, "Do we really want that Old Time Religion?" After all, women couldn't preach, the poor were relegated to the back seats, and men were required to carry the majority of the work load. She went on to talk about Jesus's role as a rebel against the religious customs of the day - how sometimes we become so obsessed with keeping our religious 'traditions' that we ignore the larger laws of loving God and loving each other. Very inspiring!
Holy Family is a very multicultural congregation, representing over 22 countries, with a huge number of West Indian, African, and Jamaican families. These are countries with very distinct and prominent musical traditions, so I must admit - I really didn't know how people would respond to my music.
What I forgot to account for, however, is that if God is in it, people will always respond!
I'm hope I'm not taken at bragging, but the response was overwhelming! Lots of people wanted to meet with me and hug me and share their stories. I sold a good number of CDs, and just got so many great comments. Gerald even ended up having a little drum demonstration with some of the men of the congregation.
Why do I always forget? If I let God take control, it will always be so much better than anything I could do on my own!