This blog is called "Fine Tuning" because it seeks to help musicians, pastors, and other worship planners/leaders sharpen their skills and grow in wisdom. It came about as a resource associated with Liturgy Solutions, an on-line publisher operated from 2005-2018 by me and my co-blogger, Stephen R. Johnson. The website has closed its shop, but is still up taking its tiny space on the web with its homepage announcement of the publishing company's closing. The last straw for us was a Supreme Court decision in favor of internet sales taxes - taxes we are not equipped to assess and to collect should they be levied. But the energy behind the site had been winding down over the years due to many life events and vocational changes for both me and Stephen. Add the need to update the site from its 2004/5 design to a website compatible with smartphones and it was just time to let it go.
We keep the website up in hopes that we might do something else with it someday. We may even put all our music back up and just give it away. Wouldn't that be something?! But that probably won't include the ESV texts because we no longer have copyrights on those. Logistical concerns come to mind, too, as we just don't have time or ability to rebuild the site. So if there's something you'd like from our old catalog - or if you are just looking for some music or need some advice - just contact me directly. I won't link to my email here due to all the spammers who periodically drop in on Blogger, but if you don't know it I think you can figure out how to contact me - at Concordia Lutheran in Kirkwood, MO, if nothing else.
"Concordia, you say?!" Yes, the former cantoral face of BJS is now happily Director of Sanctuary Worship at Concordia-Kirkwood. My, how things change, one might say! On the other hand, I've really not changed that much: in LCMS circles I've always been sort of a "liberal among conservatives and a conservative among liberals." Cue Mama Cass. I'm about to start my second year here and am doing well. The position is half-time. I am also a half-time called missionary to francophone Africa, where starting next year I'll deploy 3 months a year to teach music, hymnody, and liturgy. I'll work primarily at our seminary in Dapaong, Togo and at our novitiates in Guinea and in Congo-Brazzaville, but will also be branching out to lead workshops among our other church partners in West and Central Africa.
I'm also doing some contract work for the synod's Office of National Mission, primarily in terms of developing educational materials for the Making Disciples for Life initiative, but also overseeing chapel at the International Center during the interim between chaplains (Rev. Will Weedon is leaving to take a position with Issues, etc. and so there will be a vacancy at the IC for the next few months). I also continue to do serve as "chief musician" for DOXOLOGY, do workshops - including one coming up in South Dakota early in October - and lead hymn festivals - including one coming up in February at Zion-Harvester. I also just served again as convention musician for the LCMS convention this past week. Life abundant! :)
So where does this blog go? We'll see. Certainly if I get more comments I'll start writing more. I took a Facebook holiday for a few weeks this summer and have concluded that it is good to spend less time there. I need to stay on there for Messenger and think the sharing of family pictures & life events is great - but real professional discussion was better back here in the "old days" of "the blogosphere" and so I'm hoping we might get back to cantors blogging again. At the same time, though, with Liturgy Solutions in hiatus, I think Fine Tuning can be more personal. Stephen may show up here again and we may well add more guest authors, but I think shorter, more personal observations and reflections can be expected from me. We'll see if folks find it helpful.
So what's my "point" today? It's simply this: looking at how this blog, Liturgy Solutions, and my life are not at all what I imagined they all would be after 15 years and yet also seeing how, by God's grace, I am a better man in a better place, I just want to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all that has come to pass and thank Him for all the "fine tuning" I have had over the course of the past 15 years. It wasn't all pleasant, and it certainly wasn't all I wanted, but it has all been worked out for my good and for the blessing of those around me. I'm still a work in progress, but I'm happy to say that I'm feeling "fine tuned" these days. Soli Deo Gloria