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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Vajra: passionate music

Last night I went to a bar. That in itself is a weird thing. I don't go to bars. But two of Montecito Covenant's young men were playing in a group that was featured for a 10 pm show. Again, that's a little late for me to be traipsing out into the evening. Normally I'm settling into a good book and slowing down. But they rehearse at the youth room of the church and they invited me. Then one of the moms sent me an email invitation. So I headed to downtown Santa Barbara at 10 pm and paid a $3.00 cover fee to go upstairs, where I found the church chairman, the drummer's father, the lead singer's parents, and about 6 or 7 other church members.
I cannot describe the music of this emerging group called "Vajra". The lead singer also plays jazz trumpet. The drummer, seasons each song with different percussion, sensitively setting tempo, taking off and stepping completely out. The lead guitarist is a tightly wound and intense musician who loves playing in the upper range. And the bassist...oh my! This guy really plays a bass. He takes off on solos, pulling out extraordinary sounds, getting even a "funky" sound I remember from the 70's.
But they are not so much talented individuals; they are dialed into each other, loving each other in the making of intense and passionate music. When they play, even a guy like me knows they care about their music from the inside. They are just letting it out together.
Before I knew it, I was near the end of the show and the leader said, "The next number we'd like to dedicate to 'pastor DJ' who lets us practice at the church." All our church members looked at me with amusement at my involvement. Then they took off playing with energy and passion. I could not stand still as they played. My foot tapped and my head moved. Their music was contagious. They were fun and serious at the same time. They loved the crowd and invited them up front to dance.
As I drove home through the fog, I felt alive and energized. I wondered if I could preach with that same passion? I wondered if worship could be driven by that same power from within? I wondered why too often in the church we accept the bland and mediocre.
Now I do not want to see worship devolve into a "show" and full of performance. Vajra will be coming out with some CD's in the near future. If you are looking for some sacred passion, check out Knut Reirsrud & Iver Kleive's "Bla Koral." These are two Norwegian friends; one a pipe organist and the other an electric (and accoustic) guitarist. And they play hymns, Norwegian hymns, with nothing less than passion.
Settle for nothing less.

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