Archive for May, 2010

The Future is Rend Collective Experiment

Rend Collective Experiment (RCE) is the future. I’ve noticed that I’ve been saying that a lot lately — be it about the iPhone or iPad or the ebbs and flows of social media — but RCE here is the real deal.

Imagine this: the Rend Collective is a bolt of blue, a breath of fresh air, a streak of light across a night sky. Throwing out what we understand about modern worship out of the window, right with the baby and bathwater. Completely redefining what we consitute about the ‘sound’ of worship, infusing a whole new sense of what it should be like, and presenting with such honesty, realness and verve. Oh, I could wax lyrical about their music the whole day long if I had to. But more than that, more than the bright-eyed, whimsical musings of star-struck wonder, more than just plain good music, you can touch, feel, experience the joy of the Lord reverberating through their notes and melody.

What truly sets RCE apart is the sense of freedom that propels their music, best expressed in ‘Movements’ — in which the video perfectly illustrates their sound — it’s the liberation, the elevated joy, that we possess because of Jesus. No longer prisoners of sin but of hope. What would your reaction be if you, a slave born to a life of servitude, wretchedness and death, were told that, ‘You are set free from your slavery, your bonds are undone; you are now a king, a beloved son, and all that is in the kingdom is now yours’? Would you not shout, dance and sing? Would you not give praise to the One who broke the chains, bought you liberty?

What RCE does is reveal that freedom and that joy. And it is all too evident in their music. Like in ‘You Bled‘, it’s a song of praise, of exultant worship, contemplative but without the sombre weight that accompanies most of the music we hear from Christian bands nowadays. It’s a celebration. One that frees you to be who you are, whoever you may be, but also welcomes you with open arms; it’s not a commission or an exhortation, but an invitation! Worship in the Father’s house is always one that includes and never excludes. We are brothers and sisters all, each different and every one unique, all belonging.

And there is always dancing, that expression of pure joy, that spreads and suffuses every inch of your being, that you can’t help but sing and smile and move; united together with the sharing of that same rich exhiliration that can only come with the revelation of the price and purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice of love. It’s faith and hope and love, wrapped into one person, expressed in this music. Community.

Rend Collective Experiment shows us a whole new way of expressing worship. ‘Radical’ is not the word. Nor is ‘transcendent’. But it is real. And inclusive. And maybe that’s what we need to know most about God.

P.S There is so much to be said about the individual videos as well. iPhone worship is one example of their boundary-breaking efforts. I love their use of brass instruments, the collective scenes of fun and celebration (in ‘Movements’ and in the end of ‘You Bled’), and the mash-ups of old hymns in ‘You Bled’ (How wonderful/how marvellous and Yes, Jesus loves me) and the narrative of children. How it alludes to how we must approach the things of God like a child, and how God is best seen through their eyes of simple faith and open hearts.


These Words Help Me To Be


Being surrounded by writers in a meeting can be liberating, never mind the huge egos that invariably come with the territory. Maybe it’s really just the comforting thought that there are other people in the same room who understand the writing discipline, who have tread that sadly familiar path of not quite finding the right words from the mad, roiling tangle in our brains.

And the thing about writers meeting in a room is that it is always quiet. But the silence is neither awkward, nor deafening. I imagine the words dancing around our heads, livid little letters in strings and ribbons, half-formed sentences and phrases, curling, twisting, turning, tossing, twirling, spinning; typewriter fonts and scratchy pencil scribbles and neat elegant Helvetica; it is never quiet. The conversations are in the air, noiseless and without sound, invisible fingers tapping an invisible keyboard, imaginary hands scrawling the next line and letter. We are never quiet.

Why do writers write? It’s a rhetorical question really, much akin to asking ‘Why do dogs bark?’ or ‘Why do fish swim?’; it’s more than self-expression, the desire to inform or educate, or self-actualisation. I can only say that we write, simply because we do. Perhaps it’s a discovery of self.  An unveiling of personal truth. Or it could just be that when we write, we find ourselves set free from the bodies and clothes we inhabit, from the inadequacy of expression set in our faces, mannerisms, and tics; the I that I am becomes real, filling out the invisible outline that is my body, this heavy sack of flesh and bone that is strange, alien and unfamiliar.

Do we write to be, or to feel? Is this pedestrian activity of self-expression really necessary for us to be able to seize that fleeting, elusive sense of fulfilment or actualisation? Does this nebulous exercise give shape and form to our perception of uniqueness and reality?

No wonder writers, or rather the self-styled ones, are egomaniacs.