Good evening, First Baptist Church!
Normally I would be recording this reflection video for you, but I lost my voice this week (too much singing, I guess..) so I’m writing instead.
Yesterday, I was listening to a conversation with Tim Keller titled, "Hope in Times of Fear." You can find it at this link, if you'd like to listen.
I have always appreciated Keller's sermons, but this particular conversation stood out to me because of how it ended…
This past year has brought an incredible amount of change in my personal life, in addition to the challenges of the pandemic, and although there have been many unexpected blessings, most weeks have felt like rollercoasters. I’ve found myself clinging to His everlasting arms more than ever before, and in the midst of everything, the Lord has brought peace. I am thankful.
In many of my artistic friends and colleagues, I'm seeing mental health plummet, anxiety skyrocket, and suicidal thoughts creep in. Some days it feels as though caring for friends has become my full time job. Many performing artists in this country have hit an all-time low, as last month also marked the 1-year anniversary of mass cancellations of the performing arts, due to the pandemic.
I am grateful to FBC for providing me with a place to sing this year. I cannot describe how deep an impact it has had on me, to still be able to lift up my voice in worship every week in our beautiful sanctuary, while preparing for our service recordings. In a bit of a different way, some of you know that I sing with the professional vocal ensemble musica intima, and by God’s grace we have been permitted to sing and record performances (socially distanced and masked) throughout this past year. These opportunities have sustained me as an artist, and given me hope when everything else was shut down.
As musica intima prepares to record one of the final performances of our digital season, we have been rehearsing a piece titled “Dismantled Ode”. It starts out with utter chaos—dozens of extended vocal techniques layered overtop of each other—and to the listener's ear, it is discomforting and even disturbing at times. But as the piece carries on, the chaos slowly drifts off into the distance, leaving behind a soundscape of simplicity, tenderness, and calm, as the soloist sings the words, "Everything's gonna be alright…"
…Which brings us back to the conversation with Tim Keller that I mentioned above. When asked what words he would give 'that 22 year-old Christian who's a little scared or nervous about the future' to hold on to, he replied with this:
"If Jesus Christ was actually raised from the dead—if He really got up, walked out, was seen by hundreds of people, talked to them—if He was raised from the dead, then you know what? Everything's gonna be alright. Whatever you're worried about right now—whatever you're afraid of—everything is actually going to be OK. Because you’ve got to remember, we're not just talking about resurrected people...we're talking about a resurrected world… It's not just our bodies being resurrected, but the world is actually going to be a material world that is cleansed from all evil and suffering and sin, and if Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, then the whole world is going to be, in a sense, resurrected, and everything is going to be OK. Everything. You don't know how; I don't know how; but it will be... Until we actually meet Jesus Christ, we'll still have our wounds, but they'll be healed by His. So… if Jesus Christ was raised from the dead—and He was—you’re gonna be OK."
When I heard Keller say these words, I was immediately reminded of “Dismantled Ode” - its symbolism of the utter chaos and 'wounds' so many are living with right now, but also of the peace and blessed assurance we can rest in when we believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead - and everything's gonna be alright.
Please enjoy this video from musica intima's rehearsal of the final moments of this piece. You can’t see me, but I am singing joyfully in the background :)
May the Lord bless you and give you peace.
Interim Worship Coordinator