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Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Gettys and Ethos, etc.

Today, our session of musical worship was led by Keith and Kristyn Getty. They’re Irish. This is significant for me. But, I am not Irish. I have Irish envy.

Everyone who knows me more than casually knows I am infatuated with Ireland and everything Irish. I married an Irish girl (Murphy). U2, Baileys Irish Cream, Guinness, Van Morrison, Avalon guitars, love them all. Love the accent. Love crab cakes and potato pancakes. I even liked Shamrock Shakes and other fake Irish things like Irish Spring soap. I want to live in Ireland. Did I mention the accent?

With all of that, I was aware of the fact that today’s worship session would rank high for me before we ever went in to the room. But, trust me when I say that my emotional experience today with the Gettys was not about the island.

Keith, is a gifted writer and I appreciate his lyrics. But, I want to talk about more than simply what I hear in the Getty's music--more than what I read. I want to tell you what I see.

From the moment Kristyn Getty began singing I started to cry. Not those whimpy little cries that I do everyday—it was the nasty snot-faced cry.

I was talking with my wife about it and we both agreed it boiled down to one thing—Kristyn’s authenticity is completely evident in her smile and her countenance. In Tahni’s words, “she glows.”

There is a physiological aspect of worship that I think is ignored at times. The importance of this physiological understanding is underestimated—all the way from the “unfolding” of our worship services to the—for lack of a better word—“presentation” that definitely affects our ability to engage or be engaged.

However, I am convinced that the presence of the worship leader cannot be contrived. Presence is not as much about practice (with a small “p” as in “I am practicing my scales”) as it is about Practice (with a big “P” as in “It is his normal practice to be hospitable). Certainly, we can prepare for worship leading by being well rehearsed (and we should be well rehearsed or shame on us). But, the physiological element is more closely related to the countenance and posture that is a by-product of a life infected by and surrendered to Jesus.

Kristyn Getty radiates Jesus. I want to be her when I grow up. She communicates a particular quality in abundance that is best defined by the word Ethos.

My good friend Randy Elrod (father of re:create) named his blog Ethos. If you ever get a chance to meet Randy, you will describe him as genuine, friendly, contagious, loving, a listener, the real thing, etc. This is Ethos. Good name for his blog.

Unfortunately, many have a tainted understanding of Ethos. They define ethos as a general mood or feeling or atmosphere or vibe. They talk of ethos in terms of the "feeling" people get when they visit the church. When everything “lines up” and goes without a hitch they say there was good ethos.

Kinda. But, not really.

The Aristolian idea of Ethos speaks more of character. It is a term used in communication to describe the appeal of a rhetorician. If we don’t trust or sense someone’s genuine character—there is no good ethos and they are a snake-oil salesman. If there is authenticity and character evident, they have good ethos.

It boils down to this: Kristyn brought me to tears because . . . I believe her.

I believe that she finds her hope “In Christ Alone.” I’ve never spent time with her, but I believe her. I’m sure she has her “stuff.” I am sure Kristyn and Keith argue at times (although, I am sure it sounds way cooler than our arguments because of the accent). I am sure she has struggles. But, I believe her Jesus story because of what I see.

That makes me want to sing.


Anonymous said...

John - you are so right! I too was crying uncontrollably, partly due to the richness of the poetry we were singing to ancient/future tunes, partly because of Keith's artistry to play the right things at the right times, but mostly because Jesus was speaking to my heart through both the voice and the humble yet confident presence of a young girl who walks closely and drinks deeply of God Himself.

Anonymous said...

John - the same for me. I would say that this was my worship highlight of the week. There was an innocence and an authenticity in Kristyn Getty that allowed me to focus on the Lord.