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Friday, October 2, 2009

Reflecting Our Very First Ever Worship

Someone asked me a few days ago why I had not blogged immediately about imagine/northampton's very first worship gathering. Part of my tardiness in the matter had to do with a strong need to recover from the sheer effort and hard work necessary to actually pull it together and pull it off. We knew it would be a mountain of work to be a "traveling roadshow" of sorts, setting up and tearing down everything, but "WOW!" This old man's body sat me down and had a spirited chat with me along the lines of "Do you realize what you're putting me through, cowboy?"

The second reason I didn't put down my thoughts sooner had to do with the tangle of ideas and emotions careening in my head after the event like quanta. It began on the Monday-after with being pulled every which way from, "I have to get new music together for the team to rehearse this Thursday," and reflecting on all sorts of comments people were invited to offer about how the gathering was to them, to "How are we going to solve some of the problems we encountered on Sunday?" There is so much to learn, and so much to get better at. And that's just with the worship piece of imagine/northampton! I felt that weight right away.

Gladly though, I have had time to think about the day and I have a few observations:

1. I can't say enough that even in the "hurry-up" of creating the worship space with the team that morning, I was filled with life at the notion we were actually finally doing worship, and people were gathered. There has always been something very lively to me about getting ready for a public worship event, perhaps its the wait-and-see potential of it all. The energy is infectious and uplifting. The anticipation of how the day will play out captivated my wondering and hope.

2. When the atmosphere was created it looked beautiful and different for a church "service." The ballroom was lovely and light. The tables, centerpieces, and food, and the stage filled with drums, instruments and mics intensified the energy for me. It felt good and right for that day. There was a place for the kids to go and good stuff for them to do around the idea of wonder. They would be engaged (the 20+ of them were, I understand).

When people began to come into the space, many I recognized and some I didn't, I felt the realness of what we were doing differently from other efforts we had made in the mission of imagine. People were gathering with a "come and see" anticipation and seemed engaged from the git. I was amazed people were there at all, frankly. I'm being honest.

Another remarkable part of the day for me was being once again able to help lead worship. Most of you know I had been on the Worship Team at the Barn for 15+ years as a drummer. The last 2.5 years before we moved to Massachusetts I was on the Worship Design Team at the Barn also with many of the same folks now on our current Launch and Leadership Team. Last Sunday, I was finally doing it all again, only this time with a church I was a part of launching. It felt very natural, like being in very familiar surroundings, but now in Northampton and at the very beginning.

An experience not as pleasant was the tension of trying to stay on top of all sorts of set-up details (nowhere near my gift), and last minute logistics needing attention. All kinds of work was getting done by team and imagine group members, but I was still trying to stay on top of musical details, drum equipment details, plus everything else from "are the greeters in place," to "are we going to get all the tech stuff ready before 3?" I was not at all solely responsible for that, but my mind was still racing with everything needing to come together for the gathering to go well, at least with our part of the bargain. I wasn't worried about God.

All in all, the essential minutiae were distracting me from completely savoring what was about to happen. Still there I noticed


  • Seeing people milling about before the worship eating, greeting one another and talking together.
  • Seeing the team pull it all together under pressure.
  • Having our son, Dan, daughter-in-law Lindsay, and grandchildren Conor and Taylor there with us.
  • Watching Jeanne Dubuque make her acting debut in the opening sketch (with very short notice, mind you), and do it well.
  • Seeing Tricia do a bang-up job drawing people into reflection after Jim's talk even though her mic was off, and seeing people engaged with the questions she gave them.
  • Hearing Jim preach again after almost 2 years. Seeing him in his element ably handling the Word of God for us.
  • Hearing Silvana nail the reflection song after Jim's talk.
  • Experiencing Maureen's servant heart and can-do spirit as she helped us set it all up and then greet people.
  • Watching Karen and her dad set up the imagine Kids room, knowing they would be in great hands. Having Ophelia from Amherst College help with the kids.
  • Getting to sit at my set of Gretsch drums behind a group of talented singers and musicians taking our worship maiden voyage together, and despite not having enough time to do a run-through, keeping it together and helping people worship God.
  • Getting to hear Jen and Kris play.
  • Hearing Mike pull people into worship with the songs he sang lead on.
  • Playing with Jim again.
  • Seeing Matt Bayne's smiling face at the back of the room knowing he had been substantially ill.
  • Knowing a number of pastors were with us to give support
  • Having some of our family and guests stay after to help clean up.

  • Terrible room acoustics creating tuning issues and making everything sound jangling and boomy on the stage.
  • Schlepping bins of stuff up and down the stairs - being rained on and getting soaked.
  • Having to go to our storage shed in Hadley before the worship to retrieve a piece of drum equipment I forgot, and the office to get the Proxima I forgot.
  • Not having enough time to do an adequate sound check and sketch run-through.
  • Not having enough help with the kids (we didn't really know how many we would have.
So all in all our very first worship in Northampton was good, all things considered. Again, nothing I said can overshadow the fact we got to do it at all, and that God did show up as only he can.

It is a wondrous thing to start a church at my age - at any age, I suspect - and a sobering privilege that God uses old guys like me to create and deepen the Kingdom in the lives of people.

I never realized one sunny New Mexico mid-morning when Jesus engulfed a then, 9-10 year old boy in light, overtook me in a flash with astounding joy I had no name for, and let me know that someday I would truly know him, that at 60, I would be launching a church in his Name and for his glory.

Life is a grand and fitting mystery, indeed.

I hope I miss none of it apportioned to me while I'm here.