'Writing this update has been an exercise in looking back to give thanks...'
Suddenly – inconveniently– I couldn’t stop the tears.
Suppertime, and we were listening to a ‘Heart and Soul’ radio interview with Emma Buchan, project director of Thy Kingdom Come. Taking part in several of Roger Jones’ musicals had meant a lot for her faith journey, she said, citing ‘Engraved upon my Palms’, a song based on Isaiah 49.
I wept, remembering how I’d scribbled the lyrics decades ago. The song was part of our 1999 musical, Snakes and Ladders. Now it was telling me, ‘Stop, listen and receive.’ After all, didn’t God himself stop, look round at his work and say, ‘That’s really good!’?
In that spirit, writing this update has been an exercise in looking back to give thanks, and then look - tentatively - forward.
Looking back with thanks
It’s thirty years since I auditioned for the original cast of Roger’s musical Mary Magdalene [RIGHT]. Since then, we’ve written nine musicals, of which I also produced the first three: nearly ninety songs, with a few others not in musicals. In addition, there were a couple of poetry collections, material for group or individual worship or entertainment, and a novel to accompany our Barnabas musical. No, I don’t believe it either!
Apart from the launch tours, Holy Spirit worship and teaching evenings, weekends and longer holidays, the material has been and is still being used by groups around the country and abroad. Those who made it to Rock at St John’s last July and similar events know how infectious and thought-provoking music and worship can be when the Spirit is welcomed in.
Isn’t it amazing how God can use what starts as our scribbles? Particularly when family, friends and others like you all encourage, pray and help out practically. Thank you, all of you - but please don’t stop.
Looking forward - waiting and wondering
A year ago it seemed this music ministry mainly involved reusing old material rather than seeking to write more. Semi-retirement beckoned Roger the songwriter, and therefore me as lyricist.
When Roger recently received the Thomas Cranmer Award for worship from Archbishop Justin Welby for forty years work, [ABOVE] it could have seemed a cue for complete retirement. Instead new opportunities have been emerging.
Roger and CMM have been involved in creating ‘Heart and Soul’ (see below for details) for South Birmingham Radio. It’s a varied programme of Christian music, news and interviews with personalities national and local (including our own Marcus Pagnam).
New invitations for music ministry and Holy Spirit teaching have come from Cyprus and now, unexpectedly, Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, reworking an earlier musical has triggered wholly new compositions. We wait to see where these might lead.
· Thanking God for what he has done and is doing through CMM’s ministry over the years
· Thanking God for new opportunities
· Asking for wisdom to follow God’s leading in the way ahead
(Christian Music Ministries)