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Thursday, March 30, 2017

"Ancient Words" and the Canadian Grammar Police

The Canadian grammar police have struck again. I have received another letter from our neighbors to the north complaining about a line from my hymn, “Ancient Words.” Another, I say, because this is not the first time I’ve received this criticism.
 

Most of the personal notes written to me through the years about my songs have been very encouraging. Gratitude and appreciation for ministry received through a particular song of mine were thoughtfully expressed. There are a couple of exceptions, however, and both of them involve Canadians and a kindly-worded but unsolicited critique of a line from the chorus of "Ancient Words."

    I received one of the notes this month, in fact. Rather than try and explain, I’ll give you the complete text of the letter below. Here is the lyric in question:

     We have come with open hearts/ 

     O let the ancient words impart


    Dear Lynn,

    This is just to let you know whenever I sing “Ancient Words.” I substitute “Hear what the ancient words impart” for  “O let the ancient words impart.” I like the song except for that line; “impart" is a transitive verb and without an object it’s meaningless. I’m a writer myself and so it pains me to sing such a phrase, especially in a song specifically about words.

    I think you’ll agree that, in addition to providing a verb object, “Hear what” is more active and strong than the limp “O let.” I think it would do you credit to revise the song and re-release it; you are welcome to claim this fix as your own and I’ll never say a word.

    Sincerely,

     (signed)



There are two people in the entire English-speaking world who have taken the time to write to me about this one line of song lyric. They are both Canadians. So I have to assume that the problem is not with the lyric. Clearly, the issue is with Canadians.
 

Maybe Canadians suffer more deeply than we imagined from the long winters with their soul-numbing temperatures, mammoth snowfall and sunshine deficits.  I certainly see how the rigors of surviving a Canadian winter could lead to such afflictions as seasonal depression, the delusion that curling is a sport, and even a heightened tendency to be critical of hymn writers who unwittingly violate the rules of English grammar. 

Americans don’t seem to mind a bit of grammar rule- bending or even outright bashing when it comes to song lyrics.  If any do, they haven’t bothered to take me to task for that “transitive verb without an object” thing. (If we did care about stuff like that, a whole lot of American music would likely never have been written in the first place. Case in point, just take a look at the grammar violations in the songs your local worship team will sing this Sunday.)

Are these Canadian hymn critics wrong? No, they’re not wrong, at least not technically. But song lyrics aren’t just words to be read. Song lyrics are meant to be sung. And it really helps if they rhyme well. In my mind, “O let” sings more fluidly than “Hear what,” as suggested by the letter writer. And what else might I have rhymed with "open hearts" that would have conveyed the idea I intended, a certain importunity Bottom line, I’m the songwriter and it sure seemed to be a good choice of words at the time.

Honestly, it never entered my mind that I had created an obstacle for people to enjoy singing “Ancient Words” by leaving a verb hanging out there with no object. I hope my Canadian friends can find it in their chilly hearts to forgive the error, as they perceive it.

Lastly, there will be no “grammatically correct” re-release of “Ancient Words,” as suggested. It's simply too late. The song is already published in a whole lot of hymn books and held dear in millions of hearts just the way it is.



Want to know the story behind the song, “Ancient Words?” There’s a whole chapter on it in my book:  MORE PRECIOUS THAN SILVER: The God Stories Behind the Songs of Lynn DeShazo.In soft cover and e-book.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

On the Horns of a Dilemma

I am making an exception to the usual light-hearted tone of my blog with this article. It was just too long to be a Facebook post and too important not to say.


     Americans are really on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to the question of how to treat Muslims coming into this country, whether by travel visa or refugee status.  On the one hand, we are a nation of immigrants. We pride ourselves on our “melting pot” diversity, which includes ethnicities from the Muslim world. All Americans have been shaped to some degree by the Judeo-Christian ethic that teaches us to be welcoming and hospitable to foreigners. We may not all identify as Christians, but we truly are a Christian nation at our core. The God of the Bible is the God of love. Therefore, we know instinctively that there is something wrong with sweeping statements like “no more Muslims in America!”  But we’re also a bit naive when it comes to how cultures different from the West actually think and conduct themselves. It’s also very hard for us to grasp that Islam is anything more than one of the world’s religions.  If that’s all Islam is, however, then why does it have aspirations to dominate the world and force everyone to obey its laws?

     Truth is, Islam is more government than religion (Islam means "submission"). And unlike Christianity, lying is considered a virtue in Islam in certain instances, especially when it comes to spreading Islam in the West:

“The principle of sanctioning lying for the cause of Islam bears grave implications in matters relating to the spread of the religion of Islam in the West. Muslim activists employ deceptive tactics in their attempts to polish Islam’s image and make it more attractive to prospective converts.” - Abdullah Al-Araby

This is why the public face of Islam in America appears very differently from the public face of Islam in countries like Pakistan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia. Very recently we heard representatives from CAIR (Center for American Islamic Relations) hold a press conference condemning the San Bernadino massacre and distancing themselves as Muslim Americans from the jihadists. But private audiences of Arabic-speaking Muslims often hear aggression towards the West. Here is an example from the first Muslim cleric to deliver prayers to the U.S. House of Representatives, speaking to a Muslim audience in New Jersey (not sure of the date):

“(Muslims should) take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate. If we were united and strong, we’d elect our own emir (leader) and give allegiance to him. Take my word, if 6 to 8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us.”  Siraj Wahaj,

     Are there Muslim Americans who truly want nothing to do with waging violent jihad here? Of course. 

CAIR Director Calls Trump a Bigot and a Liar 

I’m also sure that there are many Muslims who are already here or trying to come here for that very purpose; it’s foolishness to believe otherwise, considering what is plainly stated in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Oh, and then there's 9/11. And the Fort Hood massacre, and the Chattanooga Marine recruiting office murders, and so on. Here’s the mission of Muslim Brotherhood, as stated by its Egyptian founder, Hassan al-Banna:

"Allah is our objective; the Qur'an is the Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of Allah is our wish."

     CAIR is an arm of Muslim Brotherhood in North America. It is but one of many such organizations operating in this country since the 1960s and is waging the silent phase of jihad. It is take over by stealth, in other words. Muslim Brotherhood of North America actually has a 100-year plan for the takeover of America from within; the plan dates from May of 1991. Since Muslim Brotherhood has affiliates who fill positions in our Department of Homeland Security, and who regularly advise President Obama on Middle East policy, I’d say their plan is making alarming progress. 

Brigitte Gabriel Reads From the Muslim Brotherhood Plan for America

     Almost every college campus in America has a Muslim Student Association, which is another arm of Muslim Brotherhood. Across the country, MSA students are more politically active than campus Democrats and Republicans combined, per Brigitte Gabriel of Act for America. In my home state of Alabama, Omar Hammami, a Daphne resident and former president of the University of South Alabama’s Muslim Students Association, actually became a terrorist in Somalia - recruited for jihad through MSA - and ended up on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. He is thought to have been killed in Somalia. The MSA at your local college is not exactly the Islamic version of a Baptist Student Center.

     It’s quite the pickle we Americans find ourselves in. “Keep them out!” “No! Let them in!” “But they want to kill us!” “Well, not all of them!”  “How are we supposed to know the difference?” Indeed. How are we to know the difference, especially with the Muslim Brotherhood fox already in the federal hen house? 

     Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent call for at least a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the country may go against our national grain, but it should at least be considered while those in charge of our national security regroup themselves. Even the Congress is calling for a pause in the Syrian refugee resettlement program. And is it really surprising that Trump's popularity is rising with ordinary Americans? He's just saying out loud what so many are already thinking. CAIR, of course, has compared Mr. Trump to the Nazis, which is entirely unfair; Trump isn't calling for the killing of Muslims. 

What is the prophet of Islam calling for?


Quotes of Muslim clerics are taken from Walid Shoebat's book, God's War on Terrorism: Islam, Prophecy, and the Bible; © 2008 Top Executive Media.

Brigitte Gabriel is a Arabic-speaking Lebanese Christian and the founder of Act for America. She grew up in a bomb shelter in Lebanon because of Muslim aggression in her country.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pure Genius!

     I moved into a new house last May. It wasn’t new construction, just new to me. Since a house of any age is always in need of a bit of maintenance or repair, I’ve been steadily building a “to do” list. One item was to give the garbage disposer a good cleaning out, but I’ve been procrastinating. Who knows what bacterial dangers could be lurking down there? This week, however, I was startled into the realization that the job simply could not be put off any longer.

    Anyone who owns a garbage disposer will tell you that a pretty good layer of muck can build up on the underside of the rubber collar. The collar is what keeps a food version of Mount St. Helens from happening in your kitchen. Fortunately, it is easy enough to pull it out and wash clean. It’s a disgusting task, but it’s not difficult. However, the underside of the garbage disposer is another story. A lot of finely chopped food residue can collect up there unless you clean it out every so often. If you don’t, a disposer will get really mucky. Super mucky, actually, given enough time and the inclination of food scraps to turn into compost.

    Given that fact, I still don’t think too many people pay much attention to the underside of their garbage disposers. It if smells, grinding up a lemon rind in it will take care of the odor. Besides, you can’t see the underside of a disposer, so you have no idea what degree of muckiness is there unless you’re willing to reach in and scrape it with your fingers. Gross. But you can see the bottom of the disposer easily, especially if you take the collar out. That’s where the grinding blades are. Well, who wants to reach into the jaws of a machine that could grind your fingers to hamburger meat should some evil troll turn it on while your hand was down there?  Shudder! The whole idea of putting my hand into something powerful enough to grind up chicken bones just gives me the creeps.

    The previous owner must have felt the same way about reaching into the “jaws of death” as I do. I’ve deduced this because two days ago, as I was peering out of the kitchen window over the sink, I looked down to see quite a strange sight. A crop of small seedlings were growing out of my garbage disposer! In mild shock, I pulled out a couple of them. The roots on these little guys were about an inch wide and just as long.  The super muck that had been collecting on the underside of the disposer for who knows how long was now thick enough to support plant life. Egads!

    Well, that did it. I could not postpone de-mucking the garbage disposer any longer. But how to do it?  I really did not want to reach blindly into the compost pile that now lined the walls of the disposer. What tool could I used to hook up under there and scrape it clean without damaging it? Then I had a moment of genius. Use Ice. Of course, ice! Manufacturers recommend that you drop some ice cubes into your disposer every now and then to keep the blades sharp. So  I removed the rubber collar and crammed the disposer full of ice cubes. I hit the “on” switch, and after a few seconds, I ran the water to help the cubes move around the disposer walls. The sights and sounds were a wonder to behold - glooog, spurrrful, schliiiick, shuh, shuh, shuh, schloooosh! A brown, soupy whirlpool erupted out of the disposer as who knows how many years worth of super muck was liberated by the ice scrub. Then the whirlpool turned clear again, to my great relief, drained away, and the dreadful job was done.

    I wish I had taken a “before” picture.  Then I could have posted it on Facebook with one of those captions designed to make you click against your better judgement. Like, “What she saw growing out of the garbage disposer was shocking. What she did next was pure genius!” Yes indeed - one clean garbage disposer later, I feel truly ingenious. And I still have all my fingers.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Damn the Torpedo Grass! Pull Weeds Ahead!

I stopped mowing my own grass years ago because I got tired of pulling my back out on a near-weekly basis. I am not fond of yard work, anyway. I perform some yard work because I hate a messy yard worse than I hate doing yard work. But I don’t do the major upkeep myself. Instead, I hire a lawn service. They will, I discovered, cheerfully pull their equipment-laden trailer to your house and mow, edge, and blow off your driveway. Paying a lawn company and avoiding the doctor’s office is about a wash, in my estimation.

    Having a lawn is a responsibility. If you own a house with a lawn, you should take care of it out of respect for the people living around you. You shouldn’t let debris pile up and become a critter-haven. You shouldn’t let your shrubs get out of hand, or trash trees sprout and take root just anywhere. And you should never let your weeds take over your lawn, because, in a neighborhood, what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine when it comes to weeds.

     The best defense against weeds in a lawn is a healthy carpet of grass. So when I made the decision years ago to put down grass sod, I also signed up with a lawn treatment service. The company has kept my lawn looking lush every since. They also keep an eye out for disease threats like fungus and pests like grubs. Armadillos really like grubs, and they will walk all the way from Texas to dig up your entire lawn looking for them. So Chad, my lawn treatment man, has regularly treated my Meyer’s zoysia lawn for fungus and grubs.  He also treats other insidious problems like nutgrass and torpedo grass. I think nutgrass is called nutgrass because trying to get rid of it will drive you nuts. Torpedo grass, however, is in a class all by itself.

    First of all, torpedo grass is devious. It is broad-bladed and at first examination, it looks a whole lot like centipede or St. Augustine grass. It’s easy enough to see in a fine-bladed grass lawn like zoysia. You look at it and think, “Hmmm...that looks like centipede. Well, it’s not zoysia, but at least it’s green grass.”  And you forget about it for a while. Then you notice the stuff is showing up everywhere in your lawn, because it’s also very invasive. I know this because Chad told me, “Lynn, this stuff is called torpedo grass, and it’s very invasive.” He also said, “You need to stay on top of it, or it’ll take over your lawn and it’s very hard to get rid of it.  Sometimes the only thing you can do is to cut out the infected sod and replace it.”  Yikes! Well, that put me on red alert. I was on torpedo grass patrol from that day on.

    I keep a bottle of Roundup on hand for spot control of weeds. You have to be very careful with Roundup because it will kill anything it comes in contact with. If your neighbor’s lawn looks like the sand trap area of a golf course, it’s probably because he got carried away with the Roundup. At any rate, I got pretty good at spot-treating a torpedo grass outbreak with RoundUp before it could establish  a beach head. If I lost a little zoysia temporarily, I just counted it as an acceptable casualty in the war on torpedo grass.


    I recently sold the house with the Meyer’s zoysia lawn and moved. I now own another house with an emerald zoysia lawn. While walking the property with some family members one afternoon, I noticed a big patch of a broad-bladed grass that was obviously not zoysia.  My uncle said, “That looks a lot like centipede.” Uh-oh.

    I made a mental note to have Chad investigate this suspicious patch,
since I had already arranged for him to evaluate my newly acquired lawn. The day of the appointment arrived. He pulled up a sprig of the mystery grass and studied it. He furrowed his brow. He finally said, “Tell you what - I’ll treat this area with a product called Drive. If it turns a sickly yellow, we’ll know it’s torpedo grass.”  He treated the patch, and in a few days the grass did indeed start turning the tell-tale sickly yellow hue. So it isn’t centipede, or St. Augustine, or any desirable southern grass. IT’S THE DREADED TORPEDO GRASS! ARGGHHH!!  And there’s a whole bunch of it making a run for the neighbor’s bermuda lawn next to mine.

    I don’t know who named this devilish weed “torpedo grass,”  except they probably had to resort to firing a torpedo to get rid of the dang stuff. Well, I whipped it once, I believe I can do it again. To sort of quote Admiral David Farragut, “Damn the torpedo grass! Pull weeds ahead!”

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Moving Experience

I recently sold the house that had been my home for the last nineteen years. I won’t go into the litany of reasons, it was just time to move on. My house was clean, mostly updated, and well-maintained - a realtor’s dream. I figured it would probably sell itself. Still, there’s a lot to do in getting a house ready for the real estate market. I de-cluttered rooms and listened to my realtor-brother’s suggestions as I prepared the house to be shown. I even listened to my friends who kept saying things like, “Are you sure you want to move? This house is perfect for you!” Or “But you just got through remodeling this one!”  They were questions I kept asking myself as well, as I prayerfully considered this move. I certainly wasn’t going to give the house away, but I was committed to seeing the process through.

    I spent most of February and March preparing to put the house on the market. “Spent” is exactly the right word, as my pile of paint and hardware receipts will attest.  My house listed in early April and was shown a dozen times in the first week and a half. I soon had a contract with a buyer, and immediately commenced to packing up in time for a mid-May closing and consequent move.  Thankfully, the same friends who questioned my sanity also brought me tons of great boxes to pack my things in.

    “There’s no business like show business,” goes the popular song. And there’s no trauma like moving trauma, either. It’s such a royal pain to move that no one’s bothered to set the sentiment to music, as far as I know. Think about it - everything you own has to be wrapped, stuffed, bagged, boxed, padded, taped shut or otherwise secured, labeled in way you can actually find anything again, and finally carted out of your house and into a large truck by professional movers. At my age you hire professional movers because your friends are too decrepit to haul armoires and couches in and out of buildings. Besides, I’d rather be upset with the movers than my friends, should something go awry. I did all the packing myself - my preference -  but I did get help from friends wrapping up cumbersome items with that extra-wide plastic wrap. It only clings to itself, which is great, but it is still no small feat to wrap couch cushions with a hand-held roll of plastic film, let me tell you. Imagine three people playing Twister with Glad Wrap and you get the idea.

    I closed on two houses - the one I sold and the one I purchased - on a Wednesday, and moved on Thursday. At eight-fifteen in the morning, the movers arrived and got right to work. There were three young men - one linebacker-sized and two lean and wiry ones. After an hour’s work, my three-man hourly rate dropped to the two-man hourly rate because Linebacker suffered a nasty gash on his forearm when a bungee cord popped back on him. “Ma’am, do you have a band-aid or something?”  Apparently, professional movers do not keep first aid supplies in their truck. “Uh...here, rinse that off in the sink, I’ll look.”  Band-aids, band-aids....I have packed all my band-aids, naturally. Aha! I remembered the emergency first aid kit in the car, complete with sterile wipes, gauze, and tape. Narrow tape, however, so I wrapped his beefy arm again with blue painter’s tape. “Do you think I need stitches?” he asked me. “I don’t know, but you should definitely get it looked at. And here’s four Ibuprofen.” That was the last I saw of Linebacker, so I guess he took my advice. Wirey Men continued working.

    After everything was in the truck, Wirey Men announced they were going to lunch and would meet me at the new address. “Ok. See you in a little while.”  I looked around the empty house wistfully, taking a moment to appreciate the years of enjoyment it had given me. I ran my hands along the granite counters in the kitchen, admiring the way my remodeling plans had turned out. I surveyed the stone backsplash, the stainless steel appliances, th....DANG! The movers forgot to take the refrigerator! How did I overlook the refrigerator, for pete’s sake! I realized I had no cell phone number for Wirey Men, but I knew they were going to Firehouse Subs for lunch. So I off I rushed to find them before they were already in route to the new house.

    No worries. Wirey Men were still parked, sitting in the cab, and having a post-lunch smoke. “Uh, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you forgot the refrigerator. I figured you’d want to come back and get it before you got all the way to the other house.” Wirey Men studied me quietly for a brief moment and replied, “Yes ma’am.”  I don’t want to know what they were thinking.
   
    Moving other people’s stuff is about a thankless a task as there is, even if you are being paid for it. Wirey Men put in an honest day’s work, to be sure. I asked one of them, “So, do you see a chiropractor?” “No, ma’am,“ he said, “I just take Goody’s Powder and Monster drinks.” Right.  At least Wirey Men didn’t have to reassemble beds and tables inside the house that afternoon. All my worldly goods went straight into the garage for storage at the new address, and I moved in temporarily with a good friend while some renovations are being done at my house.


    Moving is about as much fun as having a root canal; it’s just exhausting in every way. There’s simply nothing enjoyable about moving except the part when you’re finally done with it all, and I’m not quite done with it all.  In a few weeks the movers will be back to haul most of my stuff again - out of the garage and into the house. I can hardly wait.



Friday, September 19, 2014

The Demon Brew


    Has anyone besides me noticed that American Christians are growing increasingly lax in arriving at worship services on time? I’ve been part of local church life in one place or another long enough to notice this trend toward habitual tardiness. Now there have always been those few who would be late to their own funerals, but I’m not talking about those folks. I’m talking about what is more and more becoming the majority of people who consider themselves church members.

    The demise of traditional Sunday school classes may have something to do with it. Families would come to church early enough to attend the pre-service Bible classes and then move on into the sanctuary during the break.  Pretty much everybody was in their seats by the time the organist finished playing the prelude and the choir members filed in. Choir and organ music or not, every church body I’ve ever been a part of began Sunday services with some kind of call to worship. Styles and music certainly change with the years, but the basics remain more or less the same. Tardiness, however, is definitely a contemporary development.

    I have given this matter considerable thought and I think I know the reason behind American Christianity’s downward spiral toward careless indifference about arriving to worship services on time. The secret lurks in almost every church without respect to sect, style, or denomination affiliation. Whereas my Sunday school theory may offer a partial explanation, I think the real culprit behind the growing pattern of “lateness as lifestyle” is of a much darker nature. How dark you ask? Very dark - as in breakfast blend, French roast or even Sumatran. Ladies and gentlemen, possibly the greatest hindrance to worship services starting on time with the congregation bodily present is that perennial favorite beverage of Americans, the cup of hot coffee.

    Scoff if you must, but think about it for a moment. What is the one obstacle between you and the pew on any Sunday morning? It is not the the gleaming coffee urn with its tantalizing aroma? How about the siren call of brightly labeled specialty creamers with exotic names like French vanilla, creme brulee, or caramel machiatto? Perhaps it’s the skurrrkkkk of the k-cup machine that woos and then deludes you into thinking, “This won’t take but a minute and I haven’t heard the musicians start up yet anyway.” You look at the clock in the lobby and realize the service is about to begin, and yet there you stand at the coffee station, styrofoam cup in hand to collect the steaming brown elixir. You pump some creamer into your coffee and rifle the stir sticks. A quick whirl of a stick, a toss to the trash can, and back to the carry-out lids for one to top your hot beverage lest you should scald yourself or soak the upholstery. You manage to find your seat at last, somewhere in the middle of the second song. And so it goes. You were almost on time, but then you stopped for a cup of the demon brew!
   
    I jest, of course. If a church really didn’t want you to have coffee prior to a worship service (and even during it, in some places) they wouldn’t serve it to you in the first place. I know that my own church started offering coffee and a bit of food before services a few years ago because refreshments can really help people connect with one another face to face, even if it’s just for a few moments in front of the French vanilla creamer.  Besides, most preachers I know would rather minister to people abuzz with a bit of caffeine then they would to a roomful of folks who can’t seem to keep their eyes open.

    While I am kidding around about coffee being a tool of the devil, my observations about churches, coffee and the worship service do have some merit. I happen to lead the early worship service at my church. There’s a fifteen minute break at the conclusion of this service before the next one begins. During that time, I make my way out into the lobby, pour myself some coffee (hopefully there’s some left) and visit with friends. The vantage point from the cafe table that I normally retreat to gives me perspective on certain aspects of human behavior. I can tell you with all certainty that as long as the coffee is flowing, most church people these days will almost always choose to drink coffee and talk to their friends in the lobby over getting into the worship service on time. I have often seen people arrive very late and still choose to sit and drink coffee before going into the sanctuary, if it’s available. At our church the practice got so bad that we finally had to start clearing the coffee service by a certain time just to discourage it.

    As a coffee drinker myself, I understand the attraction. What is more comforting and endorphin-producing that a fresh cup of Joe? As a worship leader, however, I am annoyed. The message to me is that what I’m doing, or at least a attempting to do - draw people into the presence of God -  is not nearly as compelling as hot coffee. I fight the temptation to be annoyed about this constantly. I see visions of myself cleansing the lobby of coffee makers with my guitar strap, like Jesus took on the money changers: “This service shall be called a worship service, not a coffee bar!” It’s ridiculous, I know.

    You may be thinking, “So I’m late to the service because I stop for coffee. What’s the big deal?”  Addressing that would be another blog entry entirely. However, if you ever have to lead worship for a congregation that adds new participants every ninety seconds for fifteen minutes, you’ll know firsthand what the frigging big deal is! Uh, sorry for the outburst.... I think I need a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Timing is Everything, or Has Anybody Seen the Bass Player?


    There are any number of qualifications that the individual members of a local church praise team must have in order for them to function well together.  In addition to all the spiritual requirements that may come to mind, there are also the natural ones. You know, like singers should be able to carry a tune, and I don’t mean in a bucket. Anyone who plays an instrument should demonstrate a certain level of skill before they’re allowed to join the band.  And in my book, the one attribute that all singers and musicians on a church worship team must have is a good sense of timing. Especially the drummer. Let’s face it, drums rule. If the drummer can’t keep good time, that’s a pretty tough challenge to work through because, in music, timing is everything.

    There’s another timing issue among musicians that concerns me on many a Sunday morning, and it has nothing to do with keeping the beat.  It has to do with actually being bodily present for the the start of the worship service. You would be amazed at the disappearing act that sometimes goes on at my church right before a service is supposed to begin. One minute our keyboard player (and main worship leader/ audiophile) is on the platform ready to play, and seconds later he is up in the balcony, hanging like a monkey and tweaking some audio connection.  Certain instruments I can start without, but the keyboard is not one of them. How does he move that fast, anyway?

    I should tell you that our pre-service prep and rehearsal only runs an hour, and I must allow everyone time for a break before the service begins. People do what they gotta do in that brief time, and this seems to include breakfasting on coffee and a pastry for some of the non-singers. I’m pretty sure they find it on the premises, but it takes them so long to make it back that sometimes I wonder. Ever see that Family Circle cartoon of little Billy after being instructed by his mom to “come straight home?”  If you can envision the rabbit trails that Billy takes between where he is and home, then you have a pretty good idea of what happens to some of our folks between 8:50 and 9:00 on a typical Sunday morning.

    This past Sunday was not typical, however. It was Easter. Naturally, we planned some special music and programming for the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection. The allotted time for praise and worship would be abbreviated, however, to allow for everything on the schedule. Aware of the extra time constraints, I had stressed the need to our team for starting on time, “with or without the congregation!” (Our nine o’clock folks can be a little slow to find their seats).  Our normally tight schedule was actually running pretty smoothly. Everything and everyone was prepared by service time, and all systems were “go.”   Until, that is, someone noticed that our bass player was missing.  Well, it just went all Keystone Cops from there.

    “Where’s Jacob?” “He’s getting coffee.”  “Wow, it’s nine o’clock - I’ll go find him!”  And before I can engage my brain quickly enough to say, “Don’t leave! We’ll start without him,” off dashes the keyboard player.  While Jonathan is off to parts unknown looking for Jacob, in walks Jacob. Only he’s not really walking. Walking would look like a sprint compared to the stroll he’s doing.  But at least he is back and getting ready to play. It’s now five minutes after nine, and no keyboard player. I look beyond the open doors of the rear of the sanctuary to see Jonathan quickly circle the foyer and head out again, not realizing that Jacob has returned.  Seven after nine and counting. I’m now having visions of Second Service people impatiently waiting as First Service runs late and my pastor gives me the evil eye (he wouldn’t, by the way). Slight panic. Visitors are looking at me funny. At least I think they are - I may still be having visions. I apologize to our visitors for the housekeeping and try humorously explaining the disappearing musicians phenomenon that sometimes afflicts us.  At last, I see Jonathan sprinting across the foyer and back into the sanctuary. He bounds up the platform steps to his station and we begin the opening song.

    I wasn’t about to start our Resurrection Day celebration service without a keyboard player. That would be like eating a ham sandwich without the ham. Besides, the guy wears a lot of hats on Sunday mornings, so he deserves some slack. As a general rule, I don’t like starting any worship service without the entire team being in place. But if I have to, I’ll start without a disappearing bass player in a New York minute. You can count on it!



Lynn DeShazo