When I was growing up in my secluded place in my isolated street and isolated church and isolated town, my brother and sister were in equal parts my best friends and dreaded enemies. The manipulation and word games we played against each other sharpened us up a treat to deal with the stupid outsiders.
A positive outlet of the process was the way we worked together on projects. We did alright as the Wellingborough FYC (church youth group) getting good funds in through sponsored events and more importantly successfully winning the national quiz two times out of three attempts.
Our best work together was as singers. We all loved music and immersed ourselves in listening to it and then when we sang together we were gifted to be able to know parts and harmonise so well. The way we were it was a simple case of people knowing their parts, there were no egos or prima donnas. We were too young and in-bred to ever be competitive against each other in public. In private even that competition was reinforcing the status quo – Ruth as the oldest was in charge, David and I were on a par however much I wanted to believe otherwise. When it came to the public stuff there was a solidarity and unity bred from sticking together and only having each other for so long. We knew our parts and were able to convey them in straightforward but faithful ways.
Ruth and I in particular are not outstanding singers (David definitely is), but because we know how to play our parts we were recognised even by the National Church Choir (Merrybells) and the National Youth Camp Choir and if we wanted to go further the opportunity was always there. It was all based though on that love for singing songs together reflecting whatever diversity and harmony we could. It’s a principle we took to the choirs we served on. We just loved getting our parts right, seeing how it fitted into the larger picture of the song and being guardians of the mood and feel of the songs. Such was out knack and capacity that you could throw a song at us and we would have worked out the parts almost automatically. We were trusted to help our parts get the song as well when we sang on those choirs.
We were not being flashy or arrogant and were definitely seeking to be team players. Indeed as an expression of our natural reclusive, retiring selves if there was the opportunity to just blend into the background we would do just that. Even now I prefer being out of the limelight and being part of the backing staff and team who get the stuff done behind closed doors. As God would have it, though, one of main strengths requires coming out of the shadows and actually at times stand out and stand alone. Yet I’ll always treasure those times just being part of a team contributing to something far greater than the sum of its parts. One thing that doesn’t leave me now even as we sing in church settings is listening for the parts and seeing those harmonies and how it can enrich a song in ways that others may not consider.
So what does Mavia Dyer have to do with this? Hold that point, I’ll explain … in a moment.
You might have gathered as well that I’ve been making a big deal of the Gaither Vocal Band in a couple of the latest YouTube posts that have graced these here pages. I got into Gaither really unbeknownst to me back when I moved up to Stoke-on-Trent. Some of my times in the weekends were spent in Nottingham and we borrowed some videos which featured some of the Gaither gatherings. Their songs had a haunting, powerful effect on me that left chills in my spine with the way they lovingly rendered songs of God’s love for us. I’d never heard anything like that before.
I was into them for a while, but from 2003 onwards I never really paid too much attention. Then last year I got back into them and particularly took interest in the Vocal Band. I love the concept of a group of guys getting together and harmonising so well. I am still desperate to get their new Reunion DVD. It’s like what makes Doctor Who of such a fascination to me, the fact that you can recreate something with new characters in the main parts and how GVB having gone for so long had had various members even with a recent re-jig in membership and can still retain something faithfully rich even in a different way.
I love the whole thing. I love the constant presence of Bill Gaither. I love the long-running members and how they give way to others who stay for a period. What each individual has to offer and how they put their own mark on the whole story. I check the latest developments in the story and tell you I am desirous to be involved in something similar. Not necessarily in the singing sense, just setting up a team project that sees different parts contributing to something far greater than its individual parts but where each part is crucial to its production.
It is with these sentiments that I post the latest GVB offering which outlines what we’re on earth to do as followers of Christ – make music with our friends. That music may not be literal music, it could be working on a fashion assignment together helping with clothes and the like. It could be catering and using those culinary skills to bless others with fabulous memorable meals. It could be designing and maintaining a web-site or group blog that gives a platform for the many writing, design, editing, formatting talents of all who contribute. It could be any of these and more covering sport, arts, food, basic relationships. It just leaves such a deep impact on the heart of those as we enjoy what we have to offer and are built up by it in the love of a God who put us together.
Church gatherings can be too large and impersonal to have those kind of experiences, but there are so many chances to do it in small groups and same interest parties and the like. I can see why Jesus had 12 men around him to conjure this camaraderie and then had his close mates in Jim, Jonny and Rocky. Each contributes something unique, something priceless, something innovative, something that builds on the others and makes a glorious living monument to what love for God and each other can produce.
So where does Mavia Dyer come into it? Herein dearly beloved I now bring the strands together of another glorious gift from God.
I am not an expert on Mavia Dyer – I only really met her and began to get to know her since last August. The nature of our church life is that there’s more than enough business to go around. MD as I prefer to refer to her – cos I do most of the stuff writing so it’s about initials y’know what I’m saying – is what I call a great utility player. She’s a more than capable administrator, she is a budding photographer in her own right, she underrates herself seriously as a writer but I trust that will change in the days, weeks and months to come. She’s a willing supporter in any endeavour to which she commits herself. She brings a level of seriousness and at the same time fun and laughter when she gets involved in something and has a truly sweet personality.
She is already a crucial part of the church and many strands of the church will already testify of how much their life and projects have been greatly benefited from her input. I’m sure her friends from her time before Stoke-on-Trent would be able to give her tribute to something similar.
This is what tips it overboard to allow me to write about her at this time, was her presence at church in the praise and worship. She’s been on the P&W team since she’s been here so it wasn’t as though she did something hugely out of the ordinary. What it was that for some reason the P&W decided to camp next to me beside the screen and as we were singing MD and I naturally sang around each other in our various harmonising parts and the fun on her face enjoying my little twiddles and vocal doodles reminded me of my time with my brother and sister.
She’s one of those unassuming characters not looking to draw attention to herself and not looking make a fuss even though she has her standards and principles. These are the kind of people I’m attracted to do because those values are very much home values for me and although they may not want to have a fuss made over them I take great pleasure in turning to God and saying thank You so much for blessing me so richly and the life those who know her with your daughter MD. She just fits in so smoothly and neatly with whatever is required of her vocally and without a fuss and in doing so makes a good song that much better, that much deeper, that bit more than just a one-dimensional effort.
Where others may be more naturally talented, MD puts what she has to good use. Where others could make a bigger noise, MD just gets on with it and ensures she’s done her bit to contribute to that memorable bigger memory. That she loves Jesus and wants to serve God with her whole heart makes things so much more rewarding for those associated with her and my heart’s desire is that she may reap a huge bounty of blessings from God in every aspect of her life as she looks to find and occupy her place that God has set for her.
She reminds me in her actions that we are all a part of the same Body of Christ – each with different functions but inextricably connected to each other and thus responsible for each other and when we work together on something for His honour and glory as we do our bits in obedience to His command He commands His blessing on that expression of united strength and all of a sudden that which is good becomes great. For those who never experience such a thing in your life as the beauty of unity I really recommend you try it. You may get hints of it if you are part of a sports team or fan of something or someone, but there’s something far deeper and satisfying when that shared interest in the life and mission of Jesus Christ.
God bless team, God bless GVB, God bless MD and God bless you who read that you can join us on the most exciting, rewarding and fulfilling journey to ever embark on – the journey of life with Christ.
For His Name's Sake