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Archive for March, 2017

Story by Fred James. Photos by Matthew Brown and Susan Brown.

It was a fun and music-filled weekend for the James Gang. We had a Saturday afternoon music performance at The Dogwood Terrace Retirement Community. Things were going well during the performance when the unexpected occurred. Our daughter, Phoebe, whispered to my wife, Julie, that she had to go to the bathroom and Julie told me to keep the crowd entertained while she helped Phoebe.

In my surprised state, I couldn’t think of a song to play and sing. I have a nice instrumental of “Just as I Am,” but just as I was, I couldn’t remember what it was. Therefore, I did what I do best, I just started riffing, while I expressed my gratitude to God that we get to play music for audiences like them and then talked about the delicious gumbo that Julie made earlier in the week.

When we all get to heavenWhen Julie and Phoebe got back and we were about to get rolling again, we noticed that Ian was gone. Ian is on the high—functioning end of the Autism Spectrum and has wandered away most of his life. We decided to start the next song anyway, knowing that he would make his way back eventually.

And he did, sliding in like Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.” He grabbed a tambourine without breaking stride and accompanied us on the fly. It was pretty surprising and awesome at the same time! Between helping to set up the equipment, performing and greeting the audience afterward, Ian is really growing and it is amazing to watch. He drives us crazy like any other middle schooler would, but he is also making us very proud.

When we all get to heavenWhen we finished the set, one of our biggest fans in the audience requested “When We All Get to Heaven” for the next time we play. We agreed and worked it out the following morning before heading to church. FBC was hosting the Ebenezer Community Church Choir from Minneapolis. The choir was powerful, flamboyantly-dressed and very LOUD. They sang two songs with help from their energetic band. Also, their contribution to our congregational singing of the Doxology was simply stunning. Julie and I are in the FBC choir and we had to sing after them. We were to perform a very soft and emotive song, which was as far removed from Ebenezer’s as you could possibly get. Then I remembered we were singing for an audience of one—God who loves all kinds of music. Our brilliant music minister, Phil Mitchell, selected our song very carefully and the contrast was quite intentional.

We returned to church that night to attend Ebenezer’s concert. The Ebenezer Choir was fantastic. It took a little while, but eventually most of the audience was on their feet clapping and dancing. When the concert ended, the music continued and a sort of conga line broke out in the front of the sanctuary with everyone, black and white, dancing, laughing and praising God. I would like to imagine that when we all get to Heaven, it will be something like the James Gang has been singing—What a day of rejoicing it will be!

Read related story, Turning the Loss of War into Hope.

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