My husband, Gerald, and I are worship leaders and form the Christian music duo, Infinitely More.
Our home is full of puppies and songs.
I started this blog in 2005 to track the ups and downs of living life as an artist.
We know Easter's coming. We know the Son will rise tomorrow, life has won, and death is no more.
But the disciples of Jesus didn't know it.
Jesus had spoken about it - cryptically, in stories and strange examples - but this wasn't really supposed to happen. Was it?
The friends of Jesus weren't decorating their sanctuaries with lilies, and preparing baked ham and chocolates for a Sunday feast. Instead, I imagine them huddled in a room, hiding themselves from the anger that had erupted just a day ago. I imagine them afraid, confused, and heartbroken...
I think we need to think about this experience for two reasons:
#1. It's the truth of the story.
and #2. There are so many living like this today.
Believing that death has actually won.
They don't know Easter is coming. They might not even know that Easter is a possibility.
So today, I encourage you to lift a prayer for those who are living in the shadow of Good Friday.
Some Sundays allow for a greater range of creativity than others, and Palm Sunday is one of them. At St. John's, we open our worship with the praise of Palm Sunday, but then move into reading the Passion (or Holy Week story) using a dramatized reading. At The Gathering, we thought this should also incorporate music.
As the readers told the story of the Last Supper, Gethsemene, the trial, and the crucifixion, we lead songs that helped expand on the emotions and implications Jesus's journey.
Our song list included classic hymns like "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna" and "Were You There," alongside newer songs like "Beautiful One" and "Gethsemene." We finished the story with Gerald's song, "All Things are Possible to Thee."
Guitars waiting for worship...
There's part of me that only wants to sit in the joy and triumph of Palm Sunday, but now that we've moved through the Passion, I'm ready for Holy Week.
This past weekend, we enjoyed the final days of March break with a busy weekend up in Collingwood.
For those of you who live outside of Southern Ontario, Collingwood is an area known for beautiful lakes, winter skiing, and one of the biggest annual Elvis festivals in North America.
We arrived Saturday afternoon for a mini-workshop with the worship band from All Saints Anglican Church. We rehearsed the music for Sunday's worship, while also throwing out as many ideas as we could for introducing contemporary elements into their Sunday worship music. On a future visit, we'd love to have a full afternoon to really work through these concepts and have some creative time together. Hopefully, we can make that happen soon...
That evening, our singer friend, Cheryl Bourne, hosted us for a house concert! It was a fun and intimate evening of music in her living room. It was full of things you only get at a house concert:
- we sang in our slippers
- a little girl danced during All You Need is Love
- intermission had birthday cake for a guest
- the smell of chocolate fondue filled the air
- a dog sat in the front row
Gerald working with the All Saints Church worship band.
The next morning, we arrived back at All Saints for morning worship. After a quick rehearsal with the band, we played our preservice music, and we felt welcomed from the start. The congregation actually applauded for one of our preservice songs! That's a first for us!
The whole morning felt wonderful! The congregation and staff were all so open, and sang along so easily. We were even able to do part of the children's focus, which felt very special.
After church, it was back in the car for the 2 hour drive back to Toronto. We arrived just in time to unload the car and head to St. John's for The Gathering. Rehearsal at 3pm, service at 5pm, and, you guessed it, collapse in our jammies by sundown!
So much work, but worth every moment!!!
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And it captured what I was thinking far easier than I could ever say it.
I think every artist gets this image...
The performance is tight, but the audience never sees the hours that went into polishing those harmonies.
The painting looks great, but the viewer never sees the canvases that didn't make it out of the studio.
The song is moving, but the listener never hears the 38 words that rhymed with "love" that never made the cut.
And I think, ultimately, that's a good thing. As artists, we know what it takes to make art, and the selfish part of us wants everyone to know - "Hey, this is hard! This takes work! I did a LOT to make this happen!!"
But the generous part of us never wants the audience to think about that. Instead, we want you to hear the message, feel the emotion, and be transformed by the art we're sharing with you.
It's not about having other people fully get all that goes into making the art.
Other artists know.
That should be enough.
The true joy comes in the making, and the giving.
So let's share our art, and the next day, we'll dive in the water, and build up that iceberg all over again...
Many years ago, Dad invited me to a workshop featuring two hymn writers: Ron Klusmeier and Fred Kaan. It was a beautiful night of creativity and worship! I brought Monika to a workshop, and together, we recorded a few of Ron and Fred's songs.
A few days ago, I received an email that Ron was doing a workshop in Toronto this weekend!
Today's workshop at Leaside United Church.
This afternoon, I joined 30 other singers for an afternoon with Ron Klusmeier and his team. They're on an epic one-year tour of Canada! They visit churches to lead workshops and concerts featuring the music of Ron and his cowriters.
Our group today was composed (pun intended) of choir singers and music directors, so you know the sound was great. We sang new songs, and learned about Ron's ministry of making songs available to churches of all shapes and sizes.
Me and Ron Klusmeier!
After the workshop, Ron and I had a chance to catch up. I'm so inspired by Ron. First, there's his incredibly large body of work - over 750 hymns, and more coming every year. He works with cowriters from around the world, and many of his partnerships are decades long. And second, I'm inspired by his desire to put his songs directly into the hands of church musicians. These workshops are so user-friendly, with songs the average choir can pick up on the first pass. And in addition to his songbooks, there's his incredible website that makes charts and arrangements available for any kind of musical configuration.
Today has left me feeling encouraged and inspired.... the perfect way to leave Saturday and go into Sunday...