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Memories from Michael Card’s Christmas Tour

December 24, 2007

 

Scott Brasher, Michael Card, JG

Scott Brasher, Michael Card, JG

It’s December 24th and I’m in WA with Taya’s family preparing for the big day.  I’m catching my breath from a busy Fall and Winter of touring and am taking some time to be grateful for it all.  Today, with Christmas music playing in the background, I’m feeling especially thankful for the chance I had to be a part of Michael Card’s Christmas tour.

There’s a picture on the back of Michael Card’s CD “The Way Of Wisdom” where he’s sitting on a stool in a cabin playing his guitar, a book open before him, and a dog laying on the floor beside him as the sun pours in through a window.  This became an almost iconic image to me when I was younger, a romantic idealization to me of what I hoped my life might look like.  The scholar simultaneously searching the word and allowing it to search him, plumbing the mysteries of who God is, his ear tuned to the secrets of the kingdom, his hands on the fretboard readying to bring those secrets to the rest of us, the dog keeping watch.  This picture became a dream for me, a goal, and I set about bettering myself by digging deep into important books I knew he referenced and taking time to be reflective.  I also got a dog.

The picture told the story of a scholar/artist/minister bringing the truth to life through music.  This was and continues to be the goal of my ministry.

So it was with a reverent and mystical gratitude that I joined Michael Card’s Christmas tour this December, and it has been one of the most blessed experiences of my life.  There were the obvious blessings of having the pleasure of sharing the stage with one of my heroes as well as the opportunity to play before thousands of new people each night who seemed to really connect with my ministry (Mike has nurtured a high quality audience over the years – people who come intent to engage truth and ideas.).  But the greater blessing came in the time spent with Mike and his friends on the bus, sharing stories, life experiences, laughing, and watching action movies.

I’ve met enough of my heroes to know that they rarely live up to the idealized version of them I’ve created in my mind, but with Mike it was different.  He was everything I thought he would be – kind, intelligent, generous – but he was more than that, too.  I got to see a whole other side to him, the side of a man who talked frankly of hurts and struggles similar to mine, but who had weathered enough of them with grace to have perspective and even a good natured sense of humor about them. 

It was the little things that made for the best memories, like him making me his special cappuccino every day (and make no mistake, Mike Card makes the best cappuccino I’ve ever had!)  On the last day of the tour, he taught me how to make them for myself. I did okay, but hope I get to go out on the road with him again for the cappuccinos alone.

Hearing his stories of the people he’s met and the experiences he’s had reminded me of how grateful I am for my stories and experiences and the people I’ve been blessed to meet over the years – and if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them, and I’m grateful for you.  In spite of the weeks of being away from home, the lack of structure and financial security, my life has a colorful cast of wonderful characters and has yielded stories that make us laugh, cry, and want to live our lives more fully. And if nothing else, we’ve collected a good amount of stories that are always a hit at dinner parties.

As I think back about the tour now, I guess the best part is that I got to experience the humanity of Michael Card which now gives depth and three dimensional reality to that picture of him that I idealized for years.  He’s now another member of the cast of wonderful people that I’m blessed to have in my own story.

There’s one other part of the story I need to share.  In 2002 I was weary of trying to make a living doing music ministry and on one particular day decided I was done.  Two days later I got a call from Troy Groves, husband and manager of Sara Groves, and he asked me if I would like to go out on their Spring tour with them.  Sara was the hottest thing on Christian radio at the time and it was a great kindness that they asked me, a complete unknown, to join the tour.  I thought about the boxes of 2000 CDs I had in the basement and the debt incurred by my last record and I said, “sure, I think I can carve some time out of my schedule”.  I thought of it as maybe my last hurrah before laying this thing to rest.

That tour with the Groves was a great moment in my ministry and helped me meet all kinds of new people who have had me back repeatedly since then, and it’s because of that tour that I still do what I do today.

What does this have to do with Michael Card?  Well, Mike’s model for touring with a guest artist is to honor the artist, to essentially “open” for them and then introduce them to his audience.  He does this to create community rather than competition, and it elevates the often less than desirable title of “opening artist” to “honored guest artist”.  Troy and Sara had toured with him that previous Fall, and it was one of the best experiences they ever had, before or since.  At the end of it, overwhelmed with gratitude, Sara said to Mike, “what can I ever do to repay you?” And Mike’s response was “turn around and do this for somebody else.

Well, I was that somebody else for the Sara Groves Spring 2002 tour.

Touring with Michael Card this December felt like coming full circle.  I got to thank him in person.

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