Friday, October 18, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened at the Jonny Lang Concert

Tonight was an unexpected experience. Perhaps it should not have been unexpected. After all, I find many concerts to be spiritually uplifting experiences. But tonight was different. I went with some friends to see Jonny Lang at the House of Blues. At the House of Blues, I always buy general admission tickets so that I can get up close. I was about eight feet from Jonny tonight. Standing on the floor with hundreds of other people crammed in front of stage is always interesting. You make friends with a lot of interesting people when they have had a little too much to drink. And it's amazing what they will do and say. And there I was with my new friends at the Jonny Lang concert. 

For those who do not know, Jonny Lang is a blues guitar player who has been playing professionally for almost 20 years, and he is only 32 years old! He is a phenomenal player with a unique singing voice and music that blends rock, blues, and gospel. In 2006, he wrote and recorded  a song called, "On That Great Day." This brings me to the point of this blog. He started singing "On That Great Day" and a strange thing happened at the Jonny Lang concert. The B-3 was playing. The singers were singing harmonies. And then the audience starting singing along. I closed my eyes in praise of God. I found myself raising my hands to worship. Yes, we had church! I did not expect to have church at a Jonny Lang concert, but we did. My eyes teared up as I, and a couple of thousand new friends, sang the last chorus to the song. Here are the lyrics to "On That Great Day":

"That Great Day"

We'll meet at the river
We'll be delivered of every chain
Down into the water, children
Mothers and fathers in His sweet name

To drown all our sins
And come up again forever changed
Never to return to the people we were
Before that great day

We'll patiently wait 'til we see His face
And when He appears to wipe all our tears forever away
Then we'll be together in Heaven forever
On that great day, on that great day

We'll patiently wait 'til we see His face
And when He appears to wipe all our tears forever away
Then we'll be together in Heaven forever
On that great day, on that great day

We sang that last chorus together several times until it faded to almost acapella. There Jonny was, leading the church--uh, I mean audience--in worship of his Savior Jesus. True, Jesus is not named in the song. But  who else will we see face-to-face? Who else will wipe all our tears forever away? What amazing to me was that most likely none of these people came to the concert to worship God, or to express faith in God for their futures. 

What really struck me as I worshiped God tonight was that here was a truly missional moment. At Houston Graduate School of Theology and Cypress Oaks Church, two places that I love and at which I spend a good deal of waking hours, we talk about being missional, about being incarnational in the unsuspecting world. Here was a group of people--many drunk, boisterous, and vulgar just moments before--singing praise to God. Jesus was there in our midst. I could feel God's presence. (OK, I can't prove that, but I did experience it.) Jesus was there in that unsuspecting crowd. How often to we have services of worship and struggle to find God's presence. Yet, here it was at the Jonny Lang concert. 

I felt like I was being reminded that almost everyone knows that it is a good thing for sins to be forgiven, binding chains to be removed, and lives to be turned around for better. I think that's why everyone joined it and sang. They were expressing their faith that God will wipe away tears forever. There is a great day awaiting. And all these people are waiting for us to say, "Jesus loves you." People are waiting for us to care for them as much as Jesus does. People are looking for hope, for faith, and for peace. There was a little piece of it tonight at the Jonny Lang concert. 

We'll be together in Heaven forever on that great day. Yes, we will! 

Finally, check out this video of the song. I think you'll like it! 

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