The Hills are Alive…

This last weekend was spent at Hills Alive a free music festival in the South Dakota (is hot as a desert right now) Black Hills. It in no way reminded me of The Sound of Music except for the name and the fact that there was a piece of the Berlin Wall on the festival grounds, and there were roses in the middle of the park, and my family has seven singing children that traipsed around looking for Crisp Apple Struedel which turned out to be only overpriced funnel cake… At which point we decided to ride a free train around Strausburg dressed in nothing but some old drapes… Well, not exactly.

But here are some of the highlights of this gigantic free festival: We got to sing for 2 hours each day under the shade of a warm stuffy tent in 100 degree heat, that was priceless. No really we were glad to, we just didn’t know if we were going to melt, once that was settled with liquids we made it… No seriously it was good to be a part of something we believe in that others are trying to do. A free Christian event with a minimum of 30,000 attendees is a good thing.

Other highlights include, sitting in a large air conditioned theater with my siblings and hundreds of others who like us sang along with all of the Veggietales. It was like a choir of angels made up of children, vegetables, parents and the misfits who had no children but still watch Veggietales premieres.

Also, there were a few bands I made note of, Abandon, House of Heroes, Flatfoot 56 and Emery. Emery I have somehow never seen live until this week and I have to say, they are really saying good things to the kids that need to hear them. I was impressed.

Last but not least the festival closed out with Third Day on the mainstage, I know, I know my friends won’t think I’m hip if I nod to Third Day. But it wasn’t Third Days ability to hold a crowd after all these years, I mean they are getting old kids, they’re probably almost 40…. It wasn’t the fact that despite my studied avoidance of mainstream Big old bands I still mouth the words “Don’t you know I’ve always loved you, even before there was time…” Along with thousands of others around me… It wasn’t that I remember a time when Third Day was a young, on fire, anointed band who put on a solid rock concert that would move anyone, and was really one of the more gripping, dramatic concerts in their genre. It wasn’t that that kept me from dismissing them and cynically writing them off, as one of those bands that overcharges everyone then comes and does one free festival and thinks that covers their charity offering. I could do that. But I tried to keep my cynicism in check. Because I watched them in their show try to raise up a young artist that had something to say. His name was Trevor Morgan and he played this song about Jesus Riding a Subway and I thought to myself, even though it could just be a gimmick to make this rich band seem like they have a heart for the poor. I’m going to get past my cynical mind that agrees with my hip, informed friends that know better than to go easy on anyone…. I watched myself battle that night to not let my intellect always put people down, not judge by appearances, to sometimes believe the best and found myself saying by the end of the night that no matter what goes on behind the scenes they are getting a message out to people. Maybe it is a gimmick to them. But to the people listening it was real…

Jesus rides the subway With the hustlers and the creeps He rubs shoulders with the thieves And he looks a lot like everyone he sees Jesus rides the subway While the pretty people sleep and he says…
You can lay your burden down Oh maybe you’ve been kicked around But you can lay your burden down Jesus strolls the sidewalks On the wrong side of the tracks….

I find myself stepping back off my judgmental highhorse where while I’ve been busy serving God, feeding the poor, becoming poor myself to reach the poor, taking up the cause of the downtrodden before there’s a t-shirt or a movement for it, trying to love, serve and sacrifice in meager attempts to be like Jesus… I realize I can be in danger of falling prey to hypocrisy… I so want people to know and understand who and what Jesus is but I get cranky and skeptical because I’ve seen so many people get rich off causes, I’ve seen people stand on the backs of the poor raking in cash and fame, while saying they’re raising money for the poor, or a cause that they don’t even make a dent in, all in the name of God. I hate that. So I’ve developed a series of walls and cynicisms that anyone who lives a life of service can probably relate to.

I was convicted and as I stood there singing Rich Mullins Creed at the end of the night, I was going a little easier on the stereotypical middle class American Christians around me. I had a renewed compassion and love that I needed to remember.
In the meantime the hills were alive….with the sound of music.

Haha, cheesiest closing line ever 🙂

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