I’m a Christian singer. I write and perform songs that come out of my faith journey. As I travel the country doing concerts, like the Christmas tour I’m currently on, my desire is not to get people to believe the way I do about the various tenants of our faith, but to cut to the core of what I believe is the Good News. It’s in this core where we find common ground. Standing together, committed to knowing how loved we are by our Creator and then choosing to give that love away to others, we can truly change the world.
But I’m discovering that many religious people are less interested in finding common ground than they are in drawing lines in the sand that keep us separate.
Truly he taught us to love one another.
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
—“O Holy Night”
I’ve never had a concert cancelled because of my beliefs…until now. Unfortunately, higher ups in a particular denomination heard that I was doing a concert at one of their churches, and that I wasn’t a member of their denomination, and said it was a no go. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been doing an annual Christmas concert, developing great relationships with these wonderful people, for the past four years. It sounded to me like someone is afraid that I might say something that wouldn’t be in line with what they believe. And if they let me have their platform, they’d be setting a precedent for future events that would also be potentially sacrilegious. The church is upset. One person wrote me a nice note, apologizing for the decision and expressing frustration.
I’ve also had other people verbalize how they wouldn’t be able to come to a certain concert on this tour because of the church venue that I would performing at, and they couldn’t associate with people who believed like they did. If I only sang at places where everyone believed what I believe, I wouldn’t have any place to sing. I’m amazed when anyone lets me sing at their venue, whether it’s a church, theater, convention hall, bar, or prison. I’m honored to be able to take hope with me wherever I go, and believing that Jesus is already there.
I’ve been asked what I think about particularly “hot button” topics, to determine whether I am on the good team or the bad team. No one asks how passionately I’m seeking God or desiring to know more about the Bible, or how I choose to give my life away to others, particularly incarcerated men. People don’t keep tally of the number of miles I put on my car, traveling from city to city, seeking to bring hope and inspiration to the hurting. People don’t ask about my quiet times or what my church is like. Following a concert recently, I was told that I should insert more “Jesus” into my show. To me, Jesus is inserted in and throughout the entire concert, whether I say the name or not.
It makes me wonder why we choose to draw dividing lines, creating not so subtle us vs. them constructs, especially when we are all claiming to be followers of Christ.
I just did a concert in Hooper, NE at a small, rural church that was partnering with a group of churches of various denominations in the area to create synergy and relationship with each other. I love this kind of thinking. I also spent the morning today on two different “secular” radio stations, talking about my mission of hope and my upcoming concert. There was no fear about what I might say, in fact, when people sense your authenticity and passion, they want to hear your story.
Let every heart prepare him room.
—“Joy To The World”
The story of Christ’s birth includes the part of there being no room for them in the Inn. There was no warm, sanitized place for the baby to be born. Let’s take down our “no vacancy” signs and welcome those who might not be like us. Let’s go after those who are alone this holiday, those who are the outcasts, those who are different than us, not to try to change them, but to be love, life and light to those around us. I promise you that life will come alive in ways you’ve never dreamed. Let’s be joy to the world this Christmas season.