Saturday, September 20, 2008

Faith Works 9-20-08
Jeff Gill

Rock Of Ages, Rolling Thru Generations

One of the many benefits of living in Licking County is that we have so many opportunities to hear live music performed, often by people who live right down the street from us.

All day down in Hebron next Saturday is their “Music & Arts Festival,” with high school bands at Hebron Elementary from noon, a “Battle of the Bands” on High Street from noon next to the car show along the National Road; country, bluegrass, and gospel over at Canal Park from noon as well, all culminating with McGuffey Lane at Main and High for 6 pm. (Details at, thanks to the Hebron Business Association, the Greater Buckeye Lake Chamber of Commerce, and the county Convention and Visitors Bureau.)

Over in Granville today on Broadway the Hot Licks Bluesfest ( starts at 12:30 and runs to their final act, The James Cotton Band at 8:30 pm. The Granville Federation for the Appreciation of the Blues raises thousands of dollars for Licking County charities like Big Brothers, Big Sisters or the Licking County Coalition for Housing, all through custom t-shirt sales and some really good eating.

There will be good crowds turned out for both of these events, as there was for the big Dawes Arboretum concert Labor Day weekend. Live music pulls in ears and minds and hearts, and pulls people together.

You should know, if you’re not aware of it already, that thousands upon thousands of Licking County residents turn out to share together in the joy of live, participatory music every Sunday morning. They don’t call it a concert, or a show, they call it worship and praise and even prayer itself.

Many don’t realize that quite a few of the musicians playing so well on stages and in clubs and late into the night on Saturday are getting up and anchoring a praise team or choir or sitting at a console on Sunday. They lead worship bands or play the organ or just lead congregational singing (a harder craft than almost anyone realizes who hasn’t done it).

Live music has long been a core element in worship, alongside of preaching and printed bulletins. Some just think of it as background noise, keeping the odd interruption from the outside away from the quiet ambiance of the sanctuary.

What music has become for many congregations, especially new church starts, is the core defining characteristic of their approach to faith and worship. If you are more of a piano and organ kind of worshiper, that implies many other elements of what kind of church you’re likely to be, while a drum set on the platform says volumes to many, let alone a stack of Peavey speakers.

Sunday afternoon at 3 pm St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Granville will have a piano and organ recital, dedicating a new piano and offering their powerful Casavant pipe organ with selections from Bach to Widor. Marcia Brannon and Julia Parker will present a concert that is free and open to the public as the dedication service for their new concert piano.

Is that a worship service? No, it’s yet another free concert with live music in Licking County, but all of these opportunities and venues speak to a connection between faith and music that is essential for many of us.

Can you worship God without music, in utter silence? Sure. But can you imagine worship without words, but music only? Can you imagine worship with music that isn’t your own preferred style? Can you imagine worship in any music style at all, or is it only fit and proper in some?

These are vital questions, and ones congregational and worship leaders wrestle with every week. You might want to think about them as you attend one, or two, or even three and more different chances to enjoy the music that lifts your spirit this weekend.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; sing him a song at

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