It has been my privilege to be a member of The Gathering Band for the past several years. As I recently gave thought to the band and its members, I was struck by how well its makeup reflects the overall makeup of St. John’s Church.
Each band member comes from a different religious background. Some come from a decidedly Evangelical religious persuasion. Others have known only the joys of the Episcopal experience. Some came from a godly family. Some are spiritual orphans.
But that is not where our differences end. We are equally diverse in our work. I am a metal worker--I shape metal into intricate designs. Chrissy shapes children’s religious experiences. Robert and Brad help shape businesses. David shapes souls. Hayley helps people handle their health emergencies. Heather nurtures children. Gabe is a full-time student. JT is an accountant by day and a bass-plucking Superman by night. There couldn’t be a more diverse group of people. But, in a world where white collar and blue collar mingle together about as well as oil and water, we find those differences only make our time together more meaningful and rich.
There is a common bond that holds the band together—our love for God, our love of music, and our love for one another. Jesus said that all will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another. This love is on full display when the Gathering band practices each week. There’s a lot of love, laughter, and good-natured kidding that happens around each wrong chord played, each flat note sung, and each missed cue.
We begin our practice each week with a prayer. We ask God to help us set the tone for the Gathering service, a tone of praise and reverence for God. We pray that our music will blend with the message from the priests that week to make a cohesive experience. We pray the congregation has an experience that moves them to carry that message with them when they leave church that evening and go about their lives for the week.
It is one of my life’s most precious experiences to share a few hours with the members of the Gathering Band each week. God is gracious and kind and he renews my soul each week as we worship together.
Phil and Julie McNeish live in the Grandin Village area of Roanoke. They began attending St. John’s together back in 2010 when they were dating. The church will always be special to them because they fell in love here.