Opening Night of Schoolhouse Rock LIVE!

It has arrived. A day I thought would never get here has dawned. It’s opening night for our musical at FACS and I couldn’t be happier to see it, and get the ball rolling. I hope you can find some time to join us at one of the performances (tonight and tomorrow @ 7:00; Saturday @ 2:00). Since GIFs are so good at expressing how someone really feels, enjoy these few that accurately indicate the range of emotions I’m experiencing today:

Wins & Losses (April 16-22)

Wins

  • Our first Easter Sunday as a family of three was joyful. Reagan looked absolutely adorable in her Easter attire, and our celebration of Christ’s resurrection was beautiful. We are so blessed.
  • Having the Monday after Easter off was a good thing. I scheduled a rehearsal in the afternoon, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying the morning as a family. We very much cherished our few hours together that day.
  • I had NO JUNIOR HIGH CLASSES this week due to testing. Thanks to that, my afternoons became super productive and I got tons of things done for the show (painting, lights, props, etc.). It was beautiful.
  • It was tech and musician week for our musical at FACS. I was worried beyond my wits until Friday night when we added our two musicians. The rehearsal went so incredibly well, and I told Becca the next day, “We’re actually going to pull this off!” Friday night went so well that we turned Saturday morning into a polishing rehearsal for a few technicalities and it was extremely helpful.
  • Our dear college friend, Hillarie, stopped in for dinner and conversation on Thursday night. This is something we had been planning for over a year and we were happy to finally have it come to fruition. We enjoyed catch-up conversations and Hillarie seemed at least a little happy to be meeting Reagan. It’s always a blessing to catch up with our Union family.
  • Mom and Dad pulled into town on Saturday morning and babysat Reagan so Becca and I could enjoy the afternoon/evening out. We went to our penultimate Orpheum show of this season (The Sound of Music) and LOVED it. The whole cast was great, particularly the actress who portrayed the role of the Reverend Mother. Afterwards, we put a gift card to use at Fleming’s near our house. As much as we loved the food and service at Fleming’s, we will probably never go there again ($$$…∞).

Losses

  • Wednesday was every teacher’s “dream.” I had to administer the Pre-ACT to my homeroom of lively 9th graders. Although it was only a half-day at school, those few hours dragged on and on and on. I had never administered a test before, only proctored. Trust me; it’s actually more difficult that it appears.
  • Hitting bumps in the road when you are less than two weeks out from opening night are never fun. Such was the case last Thursday with some scenery. I’ll put it this way: everything will look great by opening night, or we’ll just have a bunch of pretty boxes for a backdrop!

Sunday song 4.23.17

A hymn I will always love is one that was inspired by Lamentations 3:21-27. Our congregation will read this passage responsively today before we sing the wonderful hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Happy Sunday!

https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify:track:26L0jKdW4Sjkhv7dBpZ4Fo

Wins & Losses (April 9-15)

Wins

  • Holy Week was a great time of reflection once again. I repeated my tradition started last year of reading the Passion story day-by-day as it happened. In other words, on Sunday, I read about the triumphal entry. On Tuesday, I read about Christ overturning the tables of the moneychangers. And so on, and so forth. Doing this makes the Passion story more real for me every year.
  • Reagan gets more expressive with each passing day. This last week saw the most growth in her facial expressions. She is smiling so much more, and we’ve learned what tricks get her to smile the biggest. We could watch her smile all day (literally).
  • The four-day week at FACS was beautiful. We got some set pieces painted, props delivered, musicians booked, t-shirts delivered, and completed half of a tech rehearsal. So, despite the abbreviated week, stuff got done.

Losses

  • I hate getting depressed. There is nothing about me that enjoys sad emotions, or feelings of unworthiness. But alas, that doesn’t keep it from happening from time to time. It lasted a few days, and I eventually got over it, but the time spent in depression was not a fun place to be.
  • It’s crunch time for my spring musical. Most things are coming together, but there’s always something looming over my head saying, “I’m not finished!” or “You still haven’t bought that prop that will take 3 days to deliver!” These next two weeks will drive me mad. April 30th is looking like a beautiful day.

Wins & Losses (April 2-8)

Wins

  • My Monday was made brighter with the visit of Becca and Reagan at work. They came and ate lunch with me since Becca’s doctor appointment got rescheduled. It was a sweet spot in my day, and one that I wish could happen more often.
  • The set pieces are good and built for our upcoming school musical. This week calls for painting, and gathering the rest of the props!
  • The weather keeps getting warmer and warmer, and this southern soul is glad about it! I love wearing short sleeves to work, and being outside in the afternoons/evenings. Even if I have to mow the yard, at least it’s enjoyable to be outside again!
  • Our weekend in Adamsville was full of love, family, and fun. We were treated to a Sip ‘n See (never heard of those before now) on Saturday morning by my parents’ church. For those that aren’t familiar, it’s essentially a baby shower after the baby is born. We spent the afternoon lounging around in Mud Creek before we had a Brasher family get-together in the early evening. This was a chance for some extended family members to meet Reagan. On the way home, we stopped by Mimi and Grampy’s so they could meet Reagan for the first time. We were very blessed by the weekend, but exhausted by the time we returned to Memphis on Saturday night! Zzzzzzzzzzz….

Losses

  • Although things are getting done almost daily, the stress of this spring musical is real. Once I tackle something, I’m reminded of something else that needs my immediate attention. I love this show, but I’ll sure be happy when April 30th rolls around.
  • Despite the fact that Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the next SCOTUS justice (an excellent choice by President Trump), it broke my heart to see more partisan division in the halls of Congress. How I long for the day when Republicans and Democrats find common ground simply based on qualifications.

Palm Sunday Song 4.9.17

What a joy it is to worship on Palm Sunday! Today, we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem while the citizens and His followers shout “Hosanna!” and waved palm branches and laid out their coats for the King’s passage into the city.

Our prelude today is appropriately titled “Hosanna (Praise is Rising).” While we sing it, congregants will wave palm branches similar to how it was done when Jesus entered the city. I can’t wait to worship today!

A Tainted Congregational Mindset Towards Musical Worship

Last night, we had our ceremony for new inductees into various honor societies here at FACS. I was asked to play for the ceremony, and I happily agreed. It’s also a time for students to see teachers as something a little more than a teacher. The event went by without a hitch, but that’s not what sticks out in my mind about the evening. It was a snippet of a conversation I heard on my way out.

As I was passing through the foyer towards the exit doors, I happened to catch just enough of a conversation to almost make me to a double-take. It was a group of parents introducing someone to friends. The description for Someone went like this: “He’s the one that sings on stage on Sunday morning.” It was all I could do to keep a poker face and keep on walking.

“The one that sings on stage on Sunday morning.”

That’s what it has come to. It’s no longer a worship leader, music director, or musician…platform, pulpit, or sanctuary. It’s a stage with singers.

Maybe I’m being a music snob. I’ve had that label before. I can’t disagree with it. I do have a music degree, after all. And maybe I’m splitting infinitives. But I don’t think so. How, in the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (the event that totally transformed church music and congregational singing), have we turned our sanctuaries into stages and our music leaders into simply “singers?” How has Martin Luther’s laying his life on the line for the sake of the Church been reduced to only singers on a stage pumping out the latest Jesus Culture or #1 CCLI song?

Do these tunes even utter the name of Jesus? Does the text of the song convict me so much that it brings me to my knees in overwhelming unworthiness before the King of Kings? Furthermore, is the song written so to be sung by an individual or a large group of people? Is the text of the song grounded in Scripture, or just a nice collection of warm-fuzzy words that rhyme? Can the melody be learned quickly?  Or are we simply selecting songs for corporate worship based on these reasons:

  • “It’s our style.”
  • “It’s fun to sing.”
  • “The people really like this song.”
  • “It’s soooooooooo good.”
    • Follow up: Why is it “sooooooooo good?”

So what have we learned here? Style is important, but not to the degree to which we raise it. Generation X (mid-sixties to early eighties) believers have convinced themselves and others that style brings people to a church. On the contrary: style brings people to a building. And when that style becomes more and more like a mainstream concert, that “style” we fretted over creates an atmosphere in which there is a chasm between the platform (now the stage) and the congregation (now an audience). And Martin Luther’s near-martyrdom is reduced to our own selfish preferences.

The image at the top of this post doesn’t speak, but SCREAMS volumes. The more we obsess ourselves with style over depth, the quicker the worship evolution happens.

Wins & Losses (March 26-April 1)

Wins

  • You may remember a blurb on a previous edition of W&L when I had just recently eaten a slice of humble pie. That has proven to be a wonderful occurrence. Since then, my joy has been fuller, my outlook has been brighter, and my attitude has been MUCH more tolerable!
  • On Tuesday, we celebrated the Queen’s birthday! Reba turned 62 on March 28 and it was a beautiful thing!
  • We landed a sweet deal, and I am now the proud owner of my first gas grill! I love my charcoal grill and try to use it whenever I have the time. But owning a gas grill is a beautiful thing, and I’m glad it’s now a reality.
  • My folks came for a visit over the weekend and we had the best time. We played many games of corn-hole, Dad bought Mom a car, Dad and I grilled pork chops for dinner (on my new gas grill!) and Reagan spent some much uninterrupted time with her aunt, uncle, grandparents and great-grandmother. A fun time was had by all.

Losses

  • While I know the trip was good for them, Becca and Reagan spent the majority of the week visiting extended family in north Alabama, leaving me in Memphis. I missed them so much and was ECSTATIC when they returned.
  • Last week was just awful. As if going back after spring break wasn’t enough, something seemed to go wrong every day at work. Top it off with no wife and daughter at home, and it makes for a week one wants to forget immediately.
  • TEACHER FRUSTRATIONS: when students ask the same teacher-is-gonna-say-no questions every…single…day. You didn’t change seats yesterday, you aren’t today, and tomorrow doesn’t look good either. Carve that in stone.