Church of the New Media

This past Sunday I attended a church that was doing a Credo service. Members of the congregation spoke their truth powerfully and bore witness to their faith, explaining their world views, their theology, and telling their stories.

Just as powerful to me, was the music. Two pieces of contemporary popular music were used in the service. One as a prelude and one before the credos. I was left in awe by both pieces, sung solo, self-accompanied on acoustic guitar, they were as intense a musical experience as anything from an aria to a full gospel choir, that I have ever experienced in church. Both songs are arranged for rock bands, so the solo arrangements were impressive. Yet both provided the lyric substance to draw you in and let you wrestle with the idea of each piece. Even more impressive was that the young man who sang pulled these off as church music-performance quality, but not a performance. He was intense and invested in the music, but he was not “on stage.” He was singing these songs for us, the congregation, so that we might feel the meaning in the words and music and the reason why behind they meant so much to him; the reason why these songs were chosen for this morning, for this service.

One of these songs was Act Appalled by Circa Survive. The video won’t give you an accurate feel for what I experienced in church. The lyric might help, though:

will you walk straight
im not like them
to fool them in
make it seem like you’re in trouble
make a sound
fake it enough
what made you so scared?
maybe you’re mistaken for someone who cares

if you remember (remember)
I’ve been trying to get back to the center
I’m sure
it’s not like it was before

to make them drink
tell ’em that it’s only water
no one leaves til we figure this out
what made you so scared?
maybe you’re mistaken for someone who cares

if you remember (remember)
I’ve been trying to get back to the center
I’m sure
it’s not like it was before

patience, both we and our words are over produced by an influence

I’m only asking
if you remember (remember)
I’ve been trying to get back to the center
I’m sure
it’s not like it was

The second song was Jesus Christ by Brand New. Again, the video won’t do justice to the church experience, but the lyric will help.

Jesus Christ, that’s a pretty face
The kind you’d find on someone that could save
If they don’t put me away
Well, it’ll be a miracle

Do you believe you’re missing out
That everything good is happening somewhere else?
But with nobody in your bed
The night’s hard to get through

And I will die all alone
And when I arrive I won’t know anyone

Well, Jesus Christ, I’m alone again
So what did you do those three days you were dead?
’cause this problem’s gonna last more than the weekend.

Well, Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die,
I’m a little bit scared of what comes after
Do I get the gold chariot?
Do I float through the ceiling?

Do I divide and fall apart?
’cause my bright is too slight to hold back all my dark
And the ship went down in sight of land
And at the gates does Thomas ask to see my hands

I know you’re coming in the night like a thief
But I’ve had some time, O Lord, to hone my lying technique
I know you think that I’m someone you can trust
But I’m scared I’ll get scared and I swear I’ll try to nail you back up

So do you think that we could work out a sign
So I’ll know it’s you and that it’s over so I won’t even try

I know you’re coming for the people like me
But we all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories
We all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories
We all got wood and nails
And we sleep inside of this machine

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