Tomorrow (Friday), the unbelievable happens. The stars align just right. My fondest wishes come true. My ultimate concert experience will happen at 7:00 PM at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.
We are going to see Over the Rhine play - but that's not the best part. Here's the goods: the opening act? Bill Mallonee and the Trophy Wives. Yes, you read that right. Bill Mallonee and Over the Rhine playing THE SAME DAMN SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I must have been a good boy this year.
This impending experience led me to remember the first ever time I saw VOL live. It was at a little church basement (The Downstairs Cafe, in Dallas). It was me, Janna, Sam Stroope, Matt Litton, Myles Werntz, and Corey Green (Brad Green's little bro). We got there early. Real early. We went to the Boston Market, got a little dinner. Then, we waited in the church parking lot. Across the small parking lot from us, was VOL's tour van. And, (I get a little teary-eyed thinking about this) while we were waiting in the parking lot, Bill Mallonee strolled across the lot from the church to the van. I felt the blood rush out of my face. I could feel my hair tingling. And, (I swear on a stack of Bibles that this part is true) I couldn't move my legs. I wanted so much to go over and talk to him, but I couldn't move my legs. This guy, this guy whose words and music had helped form the very basis of my knowledge of God and the world was within shouting distance. Janna, being the practical one, went over to Bill, like it was nothing and said, "My boyfriend would really like to meet you." He said, "No problem." Matt and Sam each grabbed an arm and pulled me toward Bill, until the use of my legs came back. It's kinda like the four friends taking their paralytic friend to meet Jesus, and cutting back the roof. Those were the kind of friends I had. I introduced myself. I said I was a big fan, or something. I don't remember too well what I said. That's alright, though. It doesn't really matter.
Anyway, in the tradition of Bill Mallonee, I'll close tonight with a Bible story (courtesy of Bill himself). Here it is:
It’s an Old Testament story about a minor league prophet who never quite made it to the majors. Like most of those Old Testament prophets, he pitched his message hard, low, fast, and down in . . . down in. His name was Hosea and he used to walk all over Israel with a signboard on. And on one side of the signboard it said, “REPENT.” And on the other side of the signboard it said, “FOR THE END IS NEAR.” He was quite a sight. He didn’t win too many games – his ERA was pretty high.
He got some special instructions one day from the dugout. The team manager said, “There’s this hot girl in town. I want you to bring her a new dress from me. And I want you to dress her up in love.”
The good Lord told Hosea to go marry the town prostitute – her name was Gomer. She was, you might say, the life of every party. A little heavy on the jewelry, a little thick on the lipstick, and not too choosy about the men or the booze.
At first she thought Hosea was kidding. “No, no, I’m not kidding. I’m under orders from the management – I want you to be my wife.” She thought the old kook was just flat-out crazy. But not that much crazier than any of the other fools she was hanging out with night after night. Besides, she needed a new dress.
So they got married – Hosea and Gomer, the unlikely pair. And most of their friends didn’t give them a snowball’s chance in hell that the marriage would last. They had a few kids. Hosea - the minor prophet, still throwing low, hard, fast, and on the inside - would name them odd little names like “God is Coming to Kick Your Ass if You Don’t Straighten Up.” And he would send them off to school and you can imagine what they felt like when the roll was called.
Meanwhile, our minor league hero was on the sawdust trail, beatin’ in up and down Israel, playing for every farm team he could find that would have him. Some of Gomer’s friends called her up one night and said, “Hey Sweetheart, the kids are in bed, come out and throw down with us, baby.” So she took them up on the offer, and pretty soon she was back to her old ways. She was back on her old stomping grounds, and that dress was looking a bit sullied, muddied, torn, battered, and broken. She’d lost some buttons and some of the jewels that clung to the hem. No matter, she felt back at home.
Meanwhile, her husband was heartbroken. He’d fuss at her, to no avail. He’d try locking the door, and she’d stumble home at 3 or 4 in the morning. He’d open the door and let her back in, fix her some coffee, give her a cold shower, tuck her in bed and let her sleep it off. Finally one day, she just didn’t come in at all, she stayed out all night.
Hosea found that the funny little thing about the object of your affections, is when you think you’re doing all the work, you think you’re carrying all the load, it’s already started to change you. And the garment he was wearing looked a lot like the garment she was wearing.
He took off, he found her passed out, drunk, above an adult bookstore. He had to pay a pretty big fee to get the management to let her out of her contract. But he was just glad to have her back. And she was glad to be had.
Hosea changed his signboard. After all the thinking, all the hurt, and all the bitterness he had the most important love of his life back by his side. On one side of the signboard it now read, “GOD IS LOVE.” Do you remember what I said about the object of your affection changing you from the inside out? On the other side of the signboard, it read, “THERE IS NO END TO IT.”
Good night. Sleep well.
there. I said it.|
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
David Lee Roth . . . to . . . Sammy Hagar
Sean Connery . . . to . . . Roger Moore
Michael Keaton . . . to . . . Val Kilmer
Transitions are rough, man. You all know that our pastor is leaving our church (quite amicably). So, we are in for a major transition. I, in fact, am on the Transition Team. That means I'm one of the ones who is primarily responsible for making sure we still do what we're supposed to be doing while we're looking for a new pastor.
A few words about Ron (our Lame Duck Pastor - he loves it when we call him that . . .): he is, quite simply, the best speaker I have ever heard (with apologies to Tim Jackson, who is damn close). When Ron announced his resignation in front of the church, he started by describing a scene from Cool Hand Luke. Can you believe that? That's Ron - he has the rare ability to speak to a church full of people and sound like he is one of them - not a spiritual superior.
Some of our congregation is taking this rather hard. We might lose some folks. Our church is rather unique in that - for a lot of people - it's the first and only church they've ever been to. And, of course, Ron is their first and only pastor. So they are having a rough time with this.