I mentioned in my last post that I would blog about the concert that was held as part of Greg Christy's inaguration as the new president at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA, a couple of weekends ago. I had meant to blog about it right away, but man, sometimes it is hard to find time to do it. And this post has taken a little more thought than usual.
The concert was the Art*Music*Justice tour and it was on campus Saturday night. The AMJ tour features 5 recording artists: Sara Groves, Charlie Peacock, Brandon Heath, Derek Webb, and his (pregnant) wife Sandra McCracken. You can follow the AMJ link to learn more about these musicians. There is a press release here.
The cost of admission to the concert was food items for the local food pantry.
I've been a fan of Sara's for awhile now. I love her songwriting. A couple of years ago we and the Christy's saw Sara in concert in a coffee house in Sioux Falls. It was a great venue where we could really be up-close with her. Since the Christy's were organizing the whole inauguration weekend, they were able to get us backstage to meet the artists.
Michelle Christy started the evening by explaining what Art*Music*Justice is all about. It is about proximate justice. Knowing that someday, Jesus will bring ultimate justice, and finally deal with evil. But in the meantime, we are to help bring justice to people and society, even if the victims don't truly perceive Christ's hand in it or understand our motivations. We do it regardless, because it is the right thing to do. Because God demands it. Stand up for the weak. Defend the widows and fatherless. We don't merely say be warm, be filled. We act. When God's people mobilize out of love, we bear witness to His love and mercy, and ultimately, He receives the glory. Backstage, Charlie Peacock and Michelle were talking, and he mentioned that he was surprised to hear her bring up proximate justice. The term is not real well known outside of theological circles. See for example here and here.
I was happy to hear Michelle's introduction mention this blog. She noted how we are adopting from Ukraine and that she saw my post from last April with Sara Grove's I Saw What I Saw video. How adopting orphans is a way of helping to bring justice to the world. I didn't know it until this concert that the video came out of an International Justice Mission (IJM) trip that Sara took to Kenya. IJM is an organization of volunteers that uses legal means to help bring social justice to the opressed. They showed a couple of IJM videos during the concert, one where slaves in a Banglesheshi brick factory had been freed and now one of them was starting his own brick factory, and another where a young Cambodian girl held captive as a sex slave was rescued. By the way, have you ever taken a look at Tony and Kimberly's blog that we link to? They are working on a Ukrainian adoption and they have posted about IJM topics here and here. Tony is on a trip to Asia now doing something related to IJM.
At one point in the concert, Sara's husband Troy came out to tell the audience that if they would commit to sponsoring a child that evening, they would get a free Sara Groves CD on the spot. They also brought two of their young sons out, but my camera batteries died so I didn't get a picture of them.
Surprisingly to me, the only time everyone was together on stage was at the very beginning and end of the concert. The majority of the time it was the individual artists performing their own material.
Here are Charlie, Brandon, and Sara.
Here are Sandra and Derek. Derek played a 12-string Taylor, which I was very interested in. During the last song of the night, he a broke a G string. On the guitar that is! I play guitar as well, and if you have to break a string, the last song is a great one to do it on.
At one point, Charlie Peacock gave a long message, even a sermon if you want to call it that, about following after God. You know, when you listen to a sermon, or a speech, or a presidential debate, even if it is a very good one, maybe only one thing sticks with you. I call that the take-away. What do I take away with me afterward? What is the most memorable? For me, it was something Charlie said. This is where I will answer the question at the top of the post. He said,
"What does it mean to love God? It means to love the things that God loves. Be interested in the things that He is interested in. And if you don't know what that is, you need to spend the rest of your life finding out."
He had the Bible open and quoted a lot of verses. I don't remember if he mentioned this one, but I think of Micah 6:8,
He has shown you, O man, what is good;The evening closed out with a time of worship. They had the words on the screen so everyone could sing along. It was a great way to finish off a great evening.
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
If the Art*Music*Justice tour comes to your area, I recommend that you go see it, but not with small children. There is a tour schedule here.