Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Go, Tell It on the Mountain

Every year at Christmas time, we sing Christmas songs at church (I know, duh).  But I'll be honest with you, it's not my favorite thing to do.  Most of the Christmas songs that people know and love ("Jingle Bells", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer", etc...) are not songs that we sing in church.  And so that leaves us singing rearranged Christmas hymns that may or may not work with a praise band.  So, we do the best we can with songs like "Joy to the World", "Angels We Have Heard on High", and "Silent Night".  But I believe MPBC's favorite Christmas song might just be "Go, Tell It on the Mountain".  And the reason for this is that we do the weirdest, funniest, should-get-me-fired version of the song imaginable.

A few years ago, I got the bright idea of having some of our band members showcase their musical abilities at the end of each verse of the song by playing some kind of instrumental solo.  I believe that first year we were treated to the theme songs from "Charlie Brown" and "Bonanza" and a special percussion solo on the congas and bongos that sounded like "Wipeout".  For some unknown reason, the church seemed to like it.  And ever since, we have sung "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" the last Sunday before Christmas with 3 special instrumental solos.  Now, over the years, it has become less about what song they play and more about what instrument they are "attempting" to play.  So, we've gotten to experience instruments such as the ukulele, an auto harp (my favorite), a shofar horn, a jaw-harp, a recorder (like you had to play in elementary school) and many, many others. 

Well, this year's version might be the best yet.  We had a special tambourine solo (the tambourine even lights up), finger cymbals with "The Chicken Dance", and last, but not least, the electric guitar t-shirt (and yes, he is actually playing the t-shirt; it has an amp built into the shirt and when you press on the guitar, it makes sounds).  So, enjoy!


video


Worship Big!

Brad


Monday, December 22, 2014

What Was It Like?

Have you ever stopped to think about what it must have been like on the night that Jesus was born?  What were Mary and Joseph thinking?  Were they scared, excited, worried, and un-sure?  I am pretty certain that they were feeling all of the above.  I know that when my first child was born I sure was.  It was such an exciting time but yet I was so scared. 

In Luke 2 the Bible reads:
6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.


One of my favorite songs is “O Holy Night”.  Many times when I sing this song, I try to close my eyes and envision what it might have looked like on that special night.  Were the stars shining?  Was it cold?  Were people around watching them?  So many things go through my mind. They knew the angel had told Mary that she would give birth to a son and that she was to call him Jesus, but don’t you think that they were thinking so much more?  I can only imagine that there must have been such an awesome feeling in the air.  What a calm and reverence there must have been.  


I want to challenge each and every one of us this Christmas to stop and think about what a Holy Night it truly was and how blessed we are.  Each and every day is a gift from God. 


Sherrie

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rejoice

Hey everyone! With Christmas in just a few days, I thought I would do a blog involving Christmas! I love all Christmas music, but I really love Christmas carols. Especially the old ones. Their lyrics are so intricate and meaningful. I was riding in the car with my dad last week and we were talking about what I should blog about. We started talking about Christmas carols/hymns and two specific ones that are my favorites came to mind: O Come, O Come Emmanuel and O Holy Night. O Come, O Come Emmanuel was written in 1861. O Holy Night was written in 1847. Both songs are pretty similar in what they are saying. There is a gloominess in the beginning and then there is rejoicing at the end. Here are the first few lines of both songs. See if you can point out the similarities:


O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here


O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining



I think it is neat how the words to both songs are so alike. Both are talking about how desolate and meaningless the world is without Jesus and how we have no hope in our sin. Then Jesus comes and we see more similarities:


O Come, O Come Emmanuel says:
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.



O Holy Night says:
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!



When Jesus appeared everything changed. There was no hope until Jesus came and there is no hope in the human heart without Jesus. We can rejoice and be glad during Christmas and remember that because of Jesus there is hope. Music has a way of touching the heart like nothing else. You might have noticed that both of the songs say "rejoice" at the end and that is what Christmas is all about. We can rejoice that Jesus came to save us and give us life. I hope that you and your families have a wonderful Christmas rejoicing in Jesus' coming and knowing the He will come again! :)


Kandace

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Change of Pace

This coming Sunday, the 14th, we will be having what we call our "acoustic Sunday".  I especially look forward to these times because it's a nice change of pace for the team and it's something that happens twice per year at the most.  A normal Sunday worship set for us includes two electric guitars, piano, bass, keyboard, full drum kit and lots and lots of singers....and a choir. :)  Our acoustic Sundays are simplified down from this a great deal.  The acoustic sets usually include a couple of acoustic guitars, a djembe and a singer.  This particular Sunday, we will have one acoustic, a bass, a djembe and a singer, which is quite possibly the simplest the Praise Team has been in a long time.  

For me, there is excitement in the acoustic sets for several reasons.  One reason is that I have a great appreciation for acoustic music.  Even though I love playing lead electric for the team, acoustic versions of our songs creates a different vibe that's hard to explain, but it's interesting.  Even though there's no full drum kit, distorted electric guitars or 60 singers, the music somehow still get's very big and still moves dynamically.  It's a great thing to experience.  

The second reason I enjoy these sets is because of how tight the groove can be.  When there's only one acoustic guitar, one bass and a djembe, the music is much more solid. There's no huge solos to bother with, so you can just focus on having a tight groove.  

However, above these things, my absolute favorite thing about acoustic Sunday is the spiritual intimacy.   When we set up for acoustic Sunday, we will bring a few stools down the lower level of the stage and play just a few feet in front of the first row of seats.  We also don't use in-ear monitors and you can really hear the congregation singing along.  It's an entire different vibe when these things come together.  It's a different setting and feel for the congregation as well, so their involvement seems to be more energetic.  You could almost say that it creates a very laid-back setting, which I have found really allows God to move and work.  It's something that I always look forward to just to see how the Lord will work in the lives of the people and I'm honored to be a part of it.

Peace,

Justin 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Prepare

It’s officially here!  The “have a holly jolly, rockin’ around, fa-la-la-la-la” time of year.   The time of year when we pull out our calendars and begin the tedious task of filling in every possible day with parties, dinners, family gatherings, shopping dates, trips. . . We will prep, wrap, write, clean, fret and stress about all the things that we think are necessary celebrate Christmas.  We will get so consumed in preparing for Christmas that the month will pass by and many of us will realize that we never prepared for Christmas.  It is the time of year that I realize that I am Martha.
 
But all He wants is for me to be Mary.  He wants me to be less consumed about preparing for the celebration and to be more about preparing for the Celebrated!  Mary had her priorities straight.  She walked away from her “to do” list to do the one thing that mattered.  She sat at the feet of Jesus. 
The praise team prepares for worship each week.  We prepare our notebooks, listen and practice music at home and then show up for rehearsal each week where we prepare for worship on Sunday morning.  I often wonder if I prepare my heart for worship as much as I prepare for worship.  Whether you are preparing your homes, the cards, shopping lists, the dinner menu, or the music for Sunday morning, spend time preparing your heart to worship the One who came as a baby in a manger.  Be like Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus. 


As we enter into this Holy season, my prayer for each of you (and myself) is that when the month becomes so busy, you will listen for His voice.  “… only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her.”  (Luke 10:42) Let every heart prepare Him room. 


Shelley