I have a pair of unused earplugs in my pocket. I am wearing the jeans I wore last night to the Jars of Clay concert we had at our parish. I usually wear my church outfit on Moday as it is generally still clean and is convenient to throw on the next morning. So I have the earplugs that were handed to me last night during the sound check in my pockets this morning. I’m pleased I didn’t need them.
Remembering the Sonic Flood concert our parish had last year — how unnecessarily loud they were for our tiny sanctuary — we had anticipated this year by making earplugs available to anyone sitting near the speakers. But the production guys for JoC apparently knew how to make the sound appropriate for the venue, and while it was still quite loud it was not inappropriately so. Heidi and I were drafted/volunteered as ushers to do crowd control and were rewarded for our efforts with seats down front about ten feet from the lead singer’s microphone. It was like having them play live in your living room. A very cool experience.
Jars of Clay played with a lot of energy. They told us several times that they “didn’t get to do this very much” — which I take to mean play in a venue as personal as a small church. They were on top of their music and seemed to be enjoying themselves. If the concert lacked anything it came from us, the audience. Most of the audience were adults, who resisted standing the whole time like the kids and the band seemed to want everyone to do. A few times when the lead singer held his mike out to the crowd as if to say, “Surely you know this part. Sing along.” he got an anemic response. And I don’t know if it is just our kids or teens in general, but instead of getting into the band or the music, a prominent group of them got wrapped up in their own little synchronized dancing routines. I got irritated like I do when at sporting events when the fans get all wrapped up in doing the wave. I mean, I’m all for having spirit and energy and cheering and all, but let’s focus it on what’s going on at the moment and not be so self-absorbed, okay? The basic courtesy an audience owes a performer, especially one who was obviously performing for us as some kind of a favor, is to Pay Attention.
Ah, but the irritation was small and the moments of genuine energy and prayer were many. Rocking out is one of my favorite ways to worship and this was a great gift in that regard. I don’t know how our little church scores such big name Christian music talent to come play every year, but it is one of the things that makes me love the extraordinary ordinary little parish that is my spiritual family.