Last week I had the privilege of attending a concert over 10 years in the making. I was introduced to “Dispatch” back in college by a few close friends I traveled in a band with. Their incredible music, and faith-infused lyrics caught my attention. Unfortunately it’s also when the band stopped playing together. They went off to do their own solo stuff. My attention was drawn to Brad, who went off to form “Braddigan“, with songs that touched more deeply into faith elements, and even actively involved his shows with bringing light to places in the world that were dark. He connected with established ministries and offered hope to people living in the garbage dumps of Nicaragua.
I have to say, the music was incredible, as expected. But I got a lot more than I’d imagined/expected along with it.
Mind you, I haven’t really attended a large concert that wasn’t labeled “Christian” in a long time (Hootie & the Blowfish), unless you count walking past one at Decatur Celebration. I realize this concert probably isn’t what all shows are like, but it reveals quite a bit about how we are wired/created as humans.
Thousands of people, standing shoulder to shoulder, filled to the brim with emotions (or hormones? or drugs/beer?), singing the lyrics loudly…many moving to the rhythms. Let’s just say the entire venue began to smell like burned palm branches, and it was not anywhere near Ash Wednesday. So how can so many people fill themselves with so much alcohol and weed, and be shouting out introspective lyrics about grand themes like forgiveness, God, Love, Jesus, hope, etc.?
I found a small clue, in one of their most popular songs “Elias“. The very first line, sung in an Eastern Zimbabwe tribal language, says “If I could meet my Jesus I would be very happy with him”. The song goes on, with a great message about community, helping out those in need, and being stronger when they are stronger. Dispatch has even created ways to help communities in Zimbabwe, because of the story that inspired the song.
But as the woman behind me cried “This is the most high I’ve ever been!!!”, and a few minutes later, through the same tears, “Did you know that guy helps people who live in TRASH!! I can’t believe it! People live in garbage!!”….I wondered if something may be lost in the translation of God’s love for His people.
The lyrics focus on humanity being very happy with Jesus…and with each other…but neglect any mention of what God desires for His creation. I found myself, in the midst of enjoying great music; burdened to prayer for the crowds that were right on the edge of experiencing a bit of who God is….but deciding only to go as far as it benefits me and mine.
I have no doubt that God is at work, both in those moments and through their music beyond. But the concert experience reminds me there are other forces who would love to masquerade as a meaningful faith experience…
May we carry the light this week…