Our carols season 2016 has been, well… unusual.
Rain, no rain, and falling trees… It’s been dramatic, that’s for sure. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
December began with a morning spent at Primrose Methodist Church. We were essentially CrossRoad Lite – no lead guitar, with Rich unfortunately not able to join is. We considered canceling, or using backtracks, but ultimately we decided to just head in and play our hearts out with only 3 of us.
Well, it was strange with no guitar – Rich’s playing is such a big part of our sound – but we played hard and it was a fantastic morning. Both congregations – 08:00 and 09:30 – sang along and enjoyed every minute.
It was warm, so very warm, and as we packed up and made our way home Dad and I were saying that it might just be the warmest day of Summer so far. We got home and had a swim to cool off.
I mention this because when we arrived at Willows Methodist at 4pm we were excited to play outside. A pleasantly warm evening under the stars singing carols – that sounded like a great way to end the weekend! And so we set up, confident in all the weather apps and websites which said that it would never rain again in the history of the world.
Alright, I’m exaggerating a tad, but that’s how it felt. We were all saying how great it was to have such a lovely evening and no worries about rain. Ha. Silly us. We forgot to add “God willing” like James tells us to in the New Testament.
Carols began, and almost immediately, dark rain clouds materialized out of thin air, and a wind picked up. Now, when I say wind, don’t think cool breeze. Think armageddon.
Yes, I’m exaggerating again… although, maybe not quite. I had just finished Joseph’s Song, and suddenly there was a crack! and the crowd screamed as one, and over to our right a tree came crashing down… Right where Shereen and Shanna sat with our cds.
Adrenalin is a strange thing. All I remember is somehow making my way to where a bunch of guys were lifting the tree off that table, and freaking out, trying to find Shereen and Shanna (my wife and sister, by the way).
Turns out, they both somehow escaped relatively unscathed. Shereen had leaned down to pick up a cd as the tree fell, and it hit her back and kind of knocked her out the way. Shan had stood up at the moment and taken a glancing blow to the head. Both ladies were just fine – apart from needing a good straightening out by the chiropractor during the coming week.
But when that tree fell in that wind, man, what a scary moment. Everyone scattered. Carols were over of course, less than halfway through. But I think everyone was happy to be out of that wind.
That rain came down on our way home, and we saw some scary accidents on the R21. Please friends, drive slowly in the rain!
And so our time at Willows – yes, the irony in the name is not unnoticed – was sadly cut short. But we’ll be back… as long as we can play inside!
The very next day we were scheduled to play carols at St Catherine’s school in Germiston. Now the weatherman was really trying hard, and the forecast said rain all afternoon and all evening. So the event was cancelled… and of course, there was no rain. Not a drop.
Next on the agenda was our home carols. As you may know, we do carols at our house every year. The band sets up under the lapa, and everyone brings picnics and blankets and we have a great time.
But now, we were weary. Very weary. Could we risk more falling trees? The forecast said rain, 6pm, which was when we were scheduled to start. We eventually decided to play it safe and move it to a church close by, LRC Boksburg.
And finally! We got it right. Because at 5 o clock the heavens opened, and it whacked down. Proper rain. We were so glad that we didn’t have to scramble to get our instruments in from the back yard.
The evening kicked off with our friends Kings Collective singing a few worship songs. It was just the two of them – Renier, a lecturer colleague of mine at Emendy Multimedia Institute (and he also mixed my new solo album, I Owe You Everything) on guitar, and his wife Heidi on vocals. What a great set of songs, and a heart of worship that just set the tone for the evening. It was really great having them around, and we’re hoping to do more with them next year. Find out more about them here: www.kingscollective.co.za
Then we were up, and after kicking off with a few rock n roll praise songs to get things moving, we got stuck into the carols. Amidst some sound problems, some tablet malfunctions and some very strange notes on the piano, we had a great time! As always, Joseph’s Song made an impact… And the band intros in Feliz Navidad were as comical as ever.
We sold a bunch of boerie rolls, although we have a bunch left over which will be lunch and supper over the next few weeks. I wonder if any of our guests ended up at Living Waters down the street by mistake? They also had their carols on that night, and I have a feeling some of our friends ended up there. But either way, they would have had a night of worship in song. Christ be exalted!
Early the next morning, bleary-eyed and running on prayer and coffee, we arrived at Boksburg North Methodist. Thankfully we only stay a few minutes away, so we didn’t have to leave too early to get there.
We visited BNMC earlier in the year and were blown away by the way the people sang. And this service was no different – we started on the carols, and the congregation just belted it! From the heart too, you could feel the worship coming out of them. What a way to spend Sunday morning!
To end off our weekend, we headed to Edenvale to our old friends at Hillside Methodist. It had been a while since we’d been to this church, and we were very much looking forward to sharing our songs there.
By 6pm the hall was full, and after a special visit from Father Christmas (all the way from the North of Joburg) we got carolling. And the people got rocking and rolling with us, there was a lot of excitement and many cheers as we played the old favourite carols. Rocking Around the Christmas Tree (with our reworked Jesus-lyrics) was the highlight of the evening.
We were also touched by the generosity of the church – it was Dad’s birthday, and after singing a rousing Happy Birthday, Peter presented Dad with a bottle of wine as a gift. Great stuff!
And so suddenly we had only one more carols event! This time we were at my home church, Heidelberg Methodist. We played carols at HMC last year too – also on Youth Day, at the Four Seasons Nursery (be sure to pop in at their coffee for a cup of coffee next time you’re in the area).
Once again it was a stunning day. The afternoon was very hot, and we were commenting on how similar the day felt to when we were at Willows. We arrived, and again the question came – should we set up outside or inside? No clouds to be seen! No rain forecast by the apps!
We decided to play it safe, and we set up inside. Luckily, the Four Seasons venue is set out in such a way that the people who sat outside could still hear everything. A good thing, because the inside was packed to the brim.
Being our last gig of the year, we let our hair down a bit and really had fun – and the HMC crowd got so involved! There was dancing and clapping, and during Rocking Around the Christmas Tree a train of people formed and spun their way around the venue while singing “Christ is born today!” Just fantastic.
We were asked to open with HMC’s theme song (and probably our theme song too) Walking With the King. Then we were asked to close with it again after the carols… And of course that train started again, as we all celebrated Jesus together. What a way to end the year!
Then, as we were packing up… the rain came. Luckily we were inside so we didn’t have to rush everything out of harm’s way.
That’s a wrap on 2016
Sheesh – what a season! We’re grateful for the rain, we needed it so much. It made for an interesting (and, at times, frightening) Christmas time. Now for some rest.
2016’s been wonderful – we’ve met new congregations and revisited some familiar ones, played some new songs and rediscovered some old songs. Most importantly, this was our year of rising up in prayer. I can still remember sitting around the table at our studio in January deciding to call the studio our War Room, and committing to praying together like our lives depend on it; which of course they do! And through some rough times, and through some epic times, our God has kept this thing called CrossRoad going. We just pray that he keeps getting all the glory. When that stops, when it becomes about us, or when people stop getting Jesus out of our songs, then we’ll hang up our instruments.
God willing, that won’t happen in 2017. We have a US trip booked for March/April; a new album in progress, and a whole hoard of people to sing and minister to.
Cheers, and God bless you all this Christmas,
Luke and the team