Compassion International invited me to play at a concert they put on last night here at Music In The Rockies in Estes Park, CO. The week’s festivities in general are organized and funded etc by the Gospel Music Association, but there are individual classes and concerts all week sponsored by organizations like Worship Leader Magazine, Gospel For Asia and the creators of the how-to Songwriter’s Experience DVD to name a few.
Last night’s Compassion sponsored concert was MC’d by Geoff Moore and showcased Ginny Owens, Zoe Girl, a reunited Big Tent Revival, independent artist Alli Rogers and headliner Jeremy Camp. I was afraid that this would be a stoic snobby industry crowd but instead most of the 1000 Music In The Rockies registrants and many from the surrounding cities came together – 1800 in all – to enjoy music and sponsor over 200 children around the world in need of food, shelter, education and the mind-boggling revelation that God sees and loves them. It was one of the liveliest laughingest crowds I’ve ever had the privilege of playing for. Thank for coming out.
After the show Brian and I hun out at Cafe Estes, a late night showcase of independent talent that’s supposed to represent the day’s best competitors. Oh yea, I guess I forgot to mention that for many the focus of this week is the song writing, singing, and instrumentalist competitions – a la American Idol, but without the promise of a record deal. More helpful than winning is the opportunity to be heard by industry professionals and chew on their critical input and advice. For the teachable musician the competition, shows, seminars and hang time with professionals is a catalyst for improvement and an incredible one-of-a-kind education. It’s not “useless” for the registrant choosing the classes they take and the conversations they start wisely. It is not, however, the place to be discovered or signed. Music In The Rockies is simply a beautiful humbling classroom for musicians.
We woke this morning in our luxurious nature-cooled cabin, did some ironing and showering, and headed out to my classroom for the day. I taught a crammed room of students about the theology of worship and challenged us not to define worship by the way our pastors use it every Sunday (brother so-and-so will now lead us in worship) and not to allow the music business, magazines, radio stations or anyone else define it for us either. Instead I urged the class to study the writings of God to discover what it means to worship Him. What we learned together in our short time together this morning was that the word “worship” in the bible never refers to music but often refers to actions and attitudes like submission, reverence, service and slave labor. I hope the folks who came to my session leave Estes Park, whether “winners” or “losers”, knowing that God doesn’t call us His worshippers because we can sing but because we serve and slave and make His invisible character visible here, not by raising our hands and voices, but by stretching our hands out to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and fight for the poor and oppressed long after the music fades. I hope they leave better worshipers as well as better musicians.
Brian and I are currently at a table in the main lodge at Estes, intermittently meeting new musicians who come over and introduce themselves and catching up on e-mails and other work. We’ll leave shortly for the Denver airport and fly back to suburban life where the beauty of creation is a little less obvious to the hurried eye. But we’re re-energized having spent so much time the last two days with wide-eyed optimistic musicians who want to be where we are doing what we do. Flattering. Humbling. I guess I really do have a pretty cool job and a great opportunity daily to use it to inspire and redirect lives. I’m thankful for that reminder this week.
Thanks GMA, Compassion International and everyone who stopped to talk with me. See you next year I hope.
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