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Sunday, August 07, 2005

On The Road Again: Washington, DC and Laurel, MD

Friday night I arrived in DC proper (or “The District” as people around here call it), and made a quick journey through the harrowingly narrow highways to one of the most breathtaking neighborhoods I’ve ever been to. This sounds funny, but the only thing I’ve ever seen like it is the outside of the Huxtables’ house on The Cosby Show. Rows and rows of beautiful old townhomes seemed to spring out of nowhere, one of them being my destination.

I was greeted by Laura, the woman who invited me to play, as well as a bunch of other young DC professionals who are a part of a new Anglican church in the area. People scurried around making sure everything was ready for the concert: white Christmas lights were hung up for mood lighting, homemade cheesecakes and fresh coffee were set out (and, proving they were Anglicans, bottles of Bailey’s and Kahlua were present as coffee mixtures), a small PA system was plugged in and soundchecked, and 50-60 chairs were lined up in tight rows anticipating a fairly large turnout for a house concert. Overheard conversations were peppered with transcendent truth, as brothers and sisters gossiped the Gospel to one another like a secret so exciting it must be shared.

This turned out to be one of the best concerts I’ve ever played. Sometimes the atmosphere, the excitement in the room, and other, even more intangible factors come together to make a show special. This was one of those nights. It has happened before, but one of the factors is usually the presence of the band, so I was shocked and delighted to know that it is just as much the audience as it is the music that can make it happen. I quizzed them on late-night jogging (they confirmed my observations as being part of a larger trend) and talked about the solid (yet still thoroughly mysterious) truth of the freedom bought for us by Christ.

After people went home (or, I suppose, went jogging), Laura, Jake (whose odd but endearing sense of humor made the evening’s announcements much more memorable) and I went to the condo in Chinatown where I was staying. After moving my things in, we took the elevator to the rooftop, joining some of their other friends. Wine was poured and conversations were savored as we looked out across the night skyline from the heart of the city. We said goodnight sometime after two, and I fell into bed, exhausted after a long but rich day. Thanks to Laura and all the Anglican folks for an incredible evening.

I awoke at half past nine the next morning, and going against the District’s strict cultural mores, went jogging in the broad daylight. With my iPod teaching me How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, I ran past monuments and towering buildings of power, their ideals etched in stone without, greed and corruption rotting them from within. In a high-powered city full of lies, I became thankful for pockets of truth found in communities like the one I had briefly glimpsed the night before; knit together by the bonds of love, the fabric of weakness strengthened when dyed by the blood of the Lamb.

I briefly considered a detour into the Mall area to see if there was a movement I could believe in, but instead, well, I went to Starbucks. A quick stroll later and I was back at the condo, just long enough to check in with my wife on the phone and take a shower before rescuing my car from the rare-but-dreaded Saturday parking meter.

I traveled north to Gaithersburg, MD, meeting Bob Kauflin from Covenant Life Church for lunch at a great Memphis-style barbeque place. I joked that when he comes to Tennessee, we should go out for crab cakes. Bob is involved in the work of Sovereign Grace Ministries and has a heart for using musical worship to teach the church. I met Bob for the first time back on the original Indelible Grace tour in April 2002, and his work towards cross-centered worship music has been of great benefit to many churches. We talked about music, the role of pastors in worship, church life, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, the Emerging Church movement, the calling of the church in serving the poor, and more. I enjoy spending time with Bob and hope to have the opportunity to hang out more in the future. He ended up giving me an armful of books and CDs, including one I began today, the awkwardly-titled-but-exciting Becoming Conversant With The Emerging Church by D.A. Carson. So far it has been a very interesting read; I’ll let you know what I think of it when I’m done. Unless I forget.

You can click on the Worship Matters link under “worship” on the side column of this blog to subscribe to Bob’s weekly worship newsletter (if you are reading this far past the posting date, Bob told me he hopes to begin blogging soon; the WM link will be deleted and a link to his blog will go under “blogs worth reading”). You can also listen to Bob’s talks on worship at Southern Seminary’s Institute of Christian Worship lecture page.

Saturday evening I played a house concert in Laurel, MD for a dozen Orthodox Presbyterians. Their attentiveness and engaging questions were very much appreciated. Thanks to Anthony for inviting me and Jim for opening his home. By the end of the concert, I had almost lost my voice from the long day of activity, so I spent a quiet evening back at the hotel. Today I am in Baltimore, and I’m heading off to Dundalk Presbyterian soon for the last concert of this run. Thanks for reading.

DC and Laurel setlist:
And Can It Be
O Come And Mourn With Me Awhile
His Love Can Never Fail
Thou Lovely Source of True Delight
All I Owe
Let Us Love And Sing And Wonder
Jesus I Come
What Wondrous Love Is This
My Lord I Did Not Choose You
Free Grace
Come Ye Sinners
Jesus, What A Friend For Sinners
On Jordan's Stormy Banks
Be Thou My Vision

U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Christopher O’Riley – Hold Me To This
Christopher O’Riley – True Love Waits
Sovereign Grace Music – Awesome God (children’s music)


Blogger Carolyn McCulley said...

Thanks for the kind comments about your visit to Covenant Life Church to see Bob Kauflin, Matthew. It was a pleasure to read about your time here. I'll keep you posted when Bob's blog goes live. May the Lord grant you safe travels during your upcoming concert tour.

Treasuring Christ with you,

Carolyn McCulley
Sovereign Grace Ministries

11:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never knew that I lived in "one of the most breathtaking neighborhoods." But I do know that we were so grateful to have Matthew Smith in the house on Friday night. THANK YOU for supporting our adventure to Rwanda. We have 100% support as of this weekend!

12:55 PM

Anonymous Bob Kauflin said...


Carolyn pointed me to your blog site. It was an honor and joy to hang out with you. I greatly appreciate your thoughtful, biblical, humble approach to singing music that brings glory to our Savior. I also love your heart for your wife, the church, and those who don't know Jesus Christ. On a side note, I've enjoyed Christopher O'Reilly's CD True Love Waits for a while now, and am thrilled to hear he's done other projects.
Looking forward to hearing more about how God uses you in the days ahead, and getting together again.

7:41 AM


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