February 15, 2012

Music and the Barbs


few months ago I posted A tribute to a great lady – Joan Barb. This dear lady had such an incredible impact on the lives of all those who knew her. And I was honored to be involved in her funeral services, which was a celebration of Jesus Christ, the Savior who made Mrs. Barb the woman she was. It was an amazing and wonderful and tearful and joyous goodbye.

When my sister and I were in our early teens and were struggling to make sense of the world and of the things we found in scripture, Mrs. Barb was a continual inspiration. While adults were having foll blown meltdowns about electric instruments and percussion, Mrs. Barb talked seriously with us about what we saw in scripture as it applied to music. Eventually, she even asked my sister and me to present our music philosophy to her AWANA girls. She said that although she disagreed with the styles of music we liked, she thought our music philosophy was scriptural and well-thought out. She was probably one of the people who impacted my musical philosophy/theology the most while I was growing up.

A few weeks after the funeral, her daughter Michelle contacted me about singing at the brunch her church’s singles group was going to have in February. One thing led to another and the date is now upon us. This coming Saturday (February 18, 2012) my church’s worship team Aver Union will be presenting a few songs. After we are done, the worship leader from another local church in Stafford, Va., will be presenting a message from the bible. Brian Burke is a long-time friend and was one of the first people I ever played in a band with. We used to meet at his house, where he had an astounding collection of recording equipment and instruments. We’d jam together and have deep theological discussions. And we’d talk about how great it would be to play for real some day.

I’m looking forward to the reunion. And I’m grateful to the members of Aver Union who were willing to set aside a Saturday on relatively short notice to play at my friend’s event. It’s great being a Christian, praising the Awesome God, and having friends who do the same.

The playlist embedded here contains five of the seven songs we will be presenting. The only one on this playlist actually recorded by our team is "All of Your Words." The others are there for your enjoyment and edification.


  1. My name is Brian Burke ... I am the worship leader at a church in Stafford , Va. and a longtime friend of Rich Gelina ... We will be participating in an event this Saturday and I am really excited about it. Reading this blog post reminds me of the years when the topic of musical style was a constant source of unrest between the church and young believers ... such a waste of time . Rich remembers well that Joan Barb had the wisdom to see past her personal taste so she could teach the truth of scripture .... I learned a lot from her ... actually alot of people learned from her example.
    Can't wait for an awesome worship time on Saturday. BB

  2. Wish I could be there to jam with you!! It's Lori Jean (Rodgers) Smith and boy do I remember those debates. Praise God he has taught us to worship in spirit and truth!! And praise God for the incredible example of Mrs. Barb. She is one unforgettable lady, and what a legacy. Michelle and all the boys are so blessed to have had such a mom. Love and blessings!! If only I could bring my violin... Maybe one day :) look me up Brian!! www.lorijeansmith.com

  3. @Brian - Somehow I got confused and thought you had become a pastor. I will change your description in this blog post to make it a bit more accurate. Sorry about that.

    @Lori - I wish you could jam with us too, although I'd prefer to sit back and listen. I love the videos I've seen of you burning up the strings. You're amazing. And when you're in this area again, come to the Shenandoah Valley. We'd love to have a concert at our church. In fact, I'll talk to the event committee and get in touch with you about that possibility.

    Regarding the oxymoronic "worship wars," what an incredible example of misplaced focus. Even if we think our religious traditions allow us to walk on water, if we take our focus off of Jesus, we'll sink--just like Peter. Interesting that his name means "rock," isn't it? Nothing sinks quicker than a rock, if it's not upheld by Jesus.


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