Dé Luain, Deireadh Fómhair 31, 2005

I don't often have a great deal to do...but when I do it comes all at once. This past weekend I wore as many hats as I probably have to ware at anyone time. I was a Museum Curator and designer, I was stage manager, techie, and rigger, I was a learned philosopher, the knowledgeble musician, as well as actor, I was first tenor and second, dock manager, music director and consultant, youth group guy, and last and definatly not least of all I was the guy that didn't know what was going on. This week marked the churches 5th annual COTA, celebration of the arts. It was a great time, we had Carol Bomer, an accomplished christian artist, come in and present some of here works as well as give a lecture on Saturday night on Faith and Art. My "weekend" actually started friday morning at 8am when I arived at church, cup of coffee in hand, to start turning the churches basement into the Noroton Museum of Modern Art. It was fun for the most part. As it turned out I knew more about art and the display of art than I must have let on. I ended up spending time on a ladder focusing lights that were not rigged at all the way they should have been, making my job of keeping the artist happy have how her art was being displayed just a bit more difficult. But as it turns out, I'm good at doing things that are hard, and all was well. At which point I changed hats, and became at photographer...forgot to put that one up there. Saturday, I finish setting up some last minuet pices that showed up late friday night, but I'm always happy to help out a struggling art student...I guess. Spent the remainder of the day doing all of the things that I had failed to get done the day before, then went to dinner and then off to the lecture. Both durning and afterwards I got to ware my intellectual hats, though not by choice. I talked to several people who asked my feelings on what had been presented, being an artist of sorts myself I guess I was a good pick for conversation. I do enjoy that by the way. It truly envigorating when you get to talk about things you're devoting your life to, and since art and music have many correlations and share many of the same problems I have a decent amount to say about all of that. It was all very enlightening, and tiring. I didn't have to help set up anything for the lecture and was shoved out the door when I asked if I needed to stay, but it had been a long day for me anyway. Sunday was even longer. I was up at 6am to start getting ready, or rather that was when my alarm went off. I'm assuming that it went off becasue when I woke up at 7:55, while needing to be there at 7:30, it really didn't matter much. I was a little late, but none the worse for ware. We had the brass, and the full band, which I helped set up the afternoon before. Everything was great, I sang a song with a male quintet that was great. I got to finally talk to Carol about her art, just a little, before running off to find somthing quick to eat. I say quick becasue I had to eat and change and be back before 1pm to tear down from the morning, and prepare to set up for the evening. We had Max Mclain come in and recite dramatically the first 24 chapters of the Book of Genesis completly from memory. It was a truly wonderful experiance. But before all of that we had to set up. Gene and Jeff, we're Max's two tech guys. Gene showed up first to set up lights, and since I some experince I got some more practice. Steve, a new friend of mine, was there to help as well, but is much more acustomed to the front of the stage instead of the sides of wings, so again Aaron gets to wear more hats. It was fun to help set up, I always liked doing that sort of thing, and it was fun to talk to Gene about the rigging he was useing. I was a basic rigg, only four dimmers, two trees, and some small back lights, so it didn't take long. I finally got some rest that afternoon, though not quite able to sleep. I was back by 6pm, to finish set up, help people out as they came in. I got settled into a seat and let Max show me things that I've never realized about the book of Genesis. So many correlations and elusions to the coming of Christ even in the beginnings, things that you miss unless you've heard it read. Anyway, more on that later. There was of course the inevitable tear down after the performance. And then finally I was done...but no. I returned this morning, to help dismantle the museum that we had made in our basment, which took just as long as it did to set it up. I got there around 9am this time and we finally finished around 12:30 or so.
So that was Cota. Now I find myself prepareing for a week that will most likly be equally busy. I just got back from Trumbell, about a half hour to forty five minute drive depending on traffic, and a High School Specialty choir that Tim normaly directs, but he's probably just ariving in Germany right now on his way to Liverpool, England. So I have all of the responsiblity for the next week, culminating in a very bizarre occurance surely never to be equaled here are NPC. the Newsboys leading the worship for our third service. I'm not sure whether to be excited or cry. It's going to be a fun week, boo ya...that's right Josh Cash, boo ya.
(P.s. Happy reformation day to everyone in the Religion office.)

Dé hAoine, Deireadh Fómhair 28, 2005

Since I was asked nicely to do this, meaning my name was on a list and it looked like fun, I took the time out to fill in the blanks. I hope you enjoy this journy into the mind of Combs.

10 years ago-
I was 14, I hardly remember being that young. I know it sounds odd, but I really don’t. It would have been my 8th grade year. 8th grade was kind of fun I guess, though school never seemed to interest me all that much. I had Mr. Smath for math. We had two Mr. Smiths on the particular “team” that I was on, one taught English comp and the other taught math, and to give us something fun to separate them he told us to call him Mr. Smath. Odd? Yeah, but it was kind of funny at the time. I defiantly enjoyed English Comp more though. It allowed me to be creative and have a free reign with what and how we want to write. I actually still have some of the things that I wrote, and for an 8th grader they’re not all that bad. 8th grade was also my first encounter with foreign languages. The year was split into quarters and we took equal classes of French, German, Spanish, and Latin. I ended up taking Spanish in High School but this started that process the year before. I was in the Middle school Show Choir, I think I even had a solo, but as to what it was I couldn’t tell you. I played Soccer for the YMCA, and loved it. Outdoor in the Fall and Spring and indoor over the winter. I read a lot even at that point. When everyone else was reading Goosebumps or what ever other else they might be reading, I was reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. Which I always thought was interesting.
5 years ago-
I was 19. I was a freshman at Indiana Wesleyan University. I was wondering how I slipped through the cracks. By this time I was in Choral, again wondering how I slipped through the cracks. I remember sending an email to my Choir Director from high school say I was so surprised, and very excited to be in the elite choir from my school, especially as a freshmen. Those particular feelings died quickly, however. I was never too impressed with the choir as it was. The people were fun and nice, when they weren’t being jerks. I know that’s an odd thing for a professing jerk to say, but still it does take one to know one and at least I recognize it. I don’t do anything about but I recognize it. I meet Jon and Caleb who became two of my best friends throughout college. I meet so many people that year who would influence my life, for both good and ill. I was in Music theory 2 and sinking fast. I was in World Changers, groaning like everyone else. What I remember most are the people. Dave, Marcello, Paul, Lisa, Jason G-nard, Jason Howe, Jason (I knew several Jason’s), Brian and Bryant (my roommates), Matt and Tyler (my other roommates), Rob and his brother, so many people…
1 year ago-
A year ago began my last year at IWU. 5 years as “home” and things weren’t the same. But lets face it, a College changes every year. It grows and put on a new face with every new class of freshmen. I was a great year, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. I was gearing up for Two weeks in New Zealand, which turned out to be two of the most amazing weeks of my life. Not life changing, though possibly in the near future it may turn out that it was. First semester was weird getting used to things again. One thing that helped a great deal was my constant correspondence with a great friend of mine, Erica, who had left for Vietnam a month after classes started. There was Thanksgiving, there was Christmas. My classes stretched me to thinking in ways I hadn’t reached, I grew and became a different person. Spring Break in Florida with the Choral, Blasting the Numa Numa song out the windows and singing along with the guys in the van. I’d not known calm like that before, relaxed isn’t quite the word for it. I was a good year all in all.
I got into the office around 10am. I left again about an hour later to go drop Tim (my boss) off at a house so he could pick up a car that the church needed for the weekend. I then went to cash a check and almost asked the girl at the counter out for a date. I really didn’t think about it until I was almost out the door, but the thought did cross my mind. That was the second time that she’s waited on me, and she’s pretty, but I won’t do that. I have no desire to date anyone anyway. I then, after laughing at myself the whole way back to my car, proceeded to drive into Stamford, about a 15 min drive, to find Connecticut Music. We had ordered several mics and some cords, and I was there to pick them up. I signed over 1300 of the churches dollars, again I laughed a little to myself. I went to Coromendelle for lunch, and Indian place that I had just found. It was all very nice. I came back to the church and proceeded with all of the normal things that I normally have to do on a Thursday. I set up for Handbells, I made fun of Kelly, I set up a little for choir, made fun of Kelly some more, and then it was time for the Elliot Twin’s voice lessons. Not normally on a Thursday, this was another change of pace for me. Their lessons went well, there getting it, but slowly which is fine. I got there music all switched back around because some how the week before I has given them the wrong pieces. For being identical twins that have two completely different voices, One very much an Alto, the other will be a nice lyric Soprano one day if she works at it. I didn’t eat dinner, because lunch had been late. And then it was time for Bells. Average rehearsal. And Choir, again average rehearsal. I started reading when I got back, I picked up with my fantasy series that I’ve not read in 4 years, and about 10:30 my Mom called, a surprise because my parents are currently in the Dominican Republic. Every time I’ve left the country I’ve only called them once, if I’ve called them at all. Mom has called my twice since leaving. So after a brief conversation with her, called my brother which she asked me to do, and suddenly felt very alone. I started reading again and finally went to sleep around 1am, but I’ve not been able to shake the feeling. Even now.
10 Songs I know all the words to:
I’m going to have to put down some groups here because I can’t just pick ten songs. Jars of Clay songs, Third day songs, Most Chris Tomlin songs, Several Hawk Nelson songs, A couple Rachmaninov Songs, including Сонъ and Не пой, касавица!, Die Mainacht, Geheimnis, and Feldeinsamkeit all by Johannes Brahms, Recontre and Adieu by Gabriel Faure. Plus a host of Choral pieces.
5 things I'd do with a $100 Million:
- Pay off school loans, Grad School, and other debts
- Pay back my parents, and buy their house and car
- Pay off my brothers school loans
- Pay for my Grandparents medications
- Fund Mission’s endeavors (mine or someone else’s)
5 places to run away to:
- Irland
- New Zealand
- Colorado
- Home (Pennsylvania)
- Continental Europe
5 things I should/would never wear:
- Spandex
- A speedo
- A bra
- A Bikini
- A thong
5 favorite TV shows (as of right now):
- Ghost Hunters, on Sci-Fi
- Family Guy
- Futurama
- Most things on the History Channel
- Aqua Team Hunger Force, it’s random…’nough said
5 joys:
- Family
- Friends
- God
- God’s Creation
- Good Choral Music
5 favorite toys:
- Lisa, my Jetta
- Samuel, my guitar
- My computer, no name
- My hiking pack, that I havn’t gotten to use much
- Xbox, its not mine but I use it like it is
5 things I cannot stand:
- People who talk about things like they know what they are talking about, even though you know they haven’t a clue.
- People who don’t ever drive the speed limit
- People yelling at me for know reason, or who some how think they are qualified to give advice on a subject that completely foreign to me.
- People who think they’re always right (no one is ever always right, unless you’re God. And you not God, even though you think you are!!!)
- People who don’t know when to be quiet. Sometimes there are times when it perfectly ok not to talk and it is perfectly ok to use those times accordingly. It’s not a skill, it’s not a talent, it’s common sense…use it, for the love of all that is good and holy use it.

People I have tagged for doing this next:
I’m not going to put any names down here. If you want fill this thing out, do it. If not…it’s your loss. It was actually kind of fun.

Dé Máirt, Deireadh Fómhair 25, 2005


One of the most interesting things that I've experienced since coming to NPC is the addition of a prayer for forgiveness at every service. There are many things that my evangelical upbringing has not prepared me for, not that I paid much to that upbringing untill a few years ago. But this is one thing that I am really coming to believe should be included in the average evangelical liturgy. I think that this is somthing we often miss in our lives, the simple act of public confession. A good Catholic goes to confession, what makes us think that we are better than them? Maybe it's not that, but we are told to confess to one another. This simply does it corporatly, out loud, in fount of everyone. No one any better saying anything different, no one acting any better than the person next to him. You can't think about the person next to you when you say it, it's about you and God in front of everyone else. I really don't have much to say on this subject, I really would just like to share a few of these prayers with you.

Oct. 16
"Our heavenly Father, forgive us for forgetting your gracious care,
Your Careful assistance and Your wise Word,
which are always there to help us each and every day.
Your have been faithful, and we have been half-hearted.
Your have been gracious and giving, and we are so demanding.
In Your mercy, we ask you to create in us thankful, joyful, believing hearts
in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen"

Oct. 23
"Most merciful God, You created us to reflect Your glory,
But we make choices which cause us to fall short of living a life in the likeness of
Your Son. Each day You call us to know Christ, to grow in christ, to be transformed in Christ, but we are often gripped by complacency which hinders the working of Your Spirit within us. Unveil our hearts and minds so that we might brightly reflect the true glory of the Lord. Amen."

I want to write on this later, but I wanted to share some of these prayers with you guys, so forgive my lack of writing.

Dé Céadaoin, Deireadh Fómhair 19, 2005

Disapointment and other things

The Oddity of my situation has just dawned on me. I'm sitting here at starbucks listening to people around me talk, not because there conversations are interesting but becasue I'm the only one sitting outside useing an american accent. There are eight people sitting outside, including myself, and I've heard eastern European accents, Russian or Romanian possibly, possibly Scandinavian accents, and the blond haired girls sitting directly infront of me are speaking together in German, I'm disapointed that it took me so long to understand them. So at the moment I feel more like I'm traveling in Europe than interning at Chruch in Southern Connecticut. This isn't that much of a surprise really, the majority of the labor around here is foreign based. The families hire Au pairs for the kids that they havn't sent to boarding school and most of the Au pairs come from Europe. Leaving me with the impence feeling that I'm more of an American in Pairs than my situation actually supports. Of course I find it all highly amusing, so I sit here and chuckle to myself. I never thought that the language barrier would catch up to me in Darien, CT.
Disapointment struck for the second time today. I say second, because my house situation hasn't changed. I havn't talked about that before simple because it matters so little to me. I honestly am very happy living my rather bohemian life in the Yoders basement. I've a chair, and bed stand, two lamps, my own refrigerator, a clothes rack and drawers, and a bed. It's actually quite quaint and, like I said, rather bohemian. I remember wishing, not all that long ago, that I could live the life in Walden. Living with the bare minimum, simply taking care of myself. So here I am in my basement, not quite the starving artist that I imagined but probably as close as I would like to be. Anyway, I digress. My main disapointment comes from the middle school choir that kelly and I are trying to get started. We've had two "rehearsals" if you can call them that, have had a grand total of three kids show up. Two at a time I might add. Matt, Emily, and today we added Elenor to our list. Only Matt returned this week, and while Elenor said that she knows Emily very well she did know why she wouldn't have been there. So...we have know idea what to do. We've talk personally to people, handed out fliers, mailed out fliers, I called members of the old choir and people who would have moved up from the kids choir last night. I got several yeses and a few maybe's that sounded very positive, and only a few we're definat no's. We really are at a lose as to what to do. I would be happy if 5 kids showed up and wanted to sing, really that's all I'm looking for. It's just all very disapointing. Kids choir was a lot of fun anyway, especially since everything that Kelly and I worked on laid untouched. I don't say this because I'm annoyed. It really is a happy thing. Kelly and I are as of today successfully two weeks ahead of all projects, papers, etc. For the procrastinator this is a wonder that it happen, and thank goodness for it.
I'm taking on a new voice student, Jenny. She's one of the kids from the High school choir that Tim directs one day out of the week. She has an amazing soprano voice already. Tim had us up there for practice this past week so I could work with the Tenors. I needed more than five minuets to do anything more than go over the phrase that Tim wanted me to go over, but that was all I got. They need some serious work, but what high school tenor doesn't? Working with them I started remembering what it was like to be a high school tenor. Absolutly horrible is what it's like. Not only are you a guy in choir, which is an invite by itself for any gay joke you could imagine, but your a tenor. You sing high, non manly tones and have more in common with the girls than you do the basses. Anyway, over the rest of the choir I hear this voice. More than the voice I hear the vibrato. A controled, articulate, mature sounding vibrato that you almost never hear in a high school setting. She's either working on getting into All State choir, or she's already made it, which wouldn't surpise me. She's never taken voice lessons, and needs help with foriegn languages, especially Italian. She also would like two half hour lessons, which was a shock by itself especially that this came up after I told her I charge $25 per half hour (music can be lucrative if you're in the right area). So we're starting next week, and I'm very excited. I'll need different liturature for her, but I need to hear her voice before I start looking for books.
So...That's an update on life. The internet has been down at church, so that's more or less why I'm at starbucks. Things are going well. Waiting to hear back from people about New Years, don't let the basement thing fool you, I've got room for you I just need to know if you are coming. No questions to ponder...except for maybe this...What does it mean that one of the only words I've really been able to understand from the two german girls sitting across the table has been Scheisse? Does that make me a bad person or just by lingual?

Déardaoin, Deireadh Fómhair 13, 2005


If you've not read Blue Like Jazz I highly suggest you do. I'm not entirely through it yet, but it's a book that as so far challenged me in way I've not expected. As much as I love to read I don't often feel that completly connect with the author on anything more than an intellectual level, this is probably because the majority of what I've read in the past five years have been text books or supplementary reading. But this...this is different. I seem to share in the experences that Donald Miller writes about. I understand many of his frustraitions becuase I've gone through them myself, but there was somthing more last night. The two chapters that I read dealt with grace. Not what it is so much as how it's given. We in the evangelical and mainline churches talk about free grace. We quote the scripture by Paul that say that it is not by work, but by faith/grace alone that we are saved. We say it, but do we act it out? Miller writes that "I love to give charity, but I don't want to be charity. this is why I have so much trouble with grace." It's hard to free reach out your hand to take what ever is given to you and then to be satisfied with it. I think this is especially hard here in America. We call it the American Dream. People from other countries flock by the thousands to get through our boarders just at the chance of persuing that dream. Those of us who are obsesed with it see it as a big house, maybe a large family, no finacial problems, being well off, never wanting for anything at anytime, being the master of our own universe. We idolize the "self-made man." We admire the pioneers, the Davey Crockets and Daniel Boons of our history, because the did it by themselves. The succeeded in doing what no one else around them could do, they triumphed through adversity and they did it all on there own. We hear it all the time, we must go out and make something of ourselves. And so we say with ease that it is by faith alone, but we can't believe that could possibly be it.
So we listen to the prayer requests from the other people in the circle. His mom has cancer, we need to pray about that. Her grandfather is an alcoholic, we need to pray about that. He just lost my job and his rent is due at the end of the month, we need to pray about that. Aaron do you have anything you'd like to share? No, I don't have anything that needs your prayer right now, we should focus on these others prayer requests. But Miller says "Who am I to think myself above God's charity? And why would I forsake the riches of God's righteousness for the dung of my own ego?" The Charity of God...we don't like being on the recieving end of that word. In an american context it means that we've failed in the american dream. We've failed at creating a life for ourselves. But that's what God offers to us, Charity. We in our ignorance so often chose the "dung of our own ego," just so we can say that we did it ourselves. We do this becuase we want to be able to say your welcome, or thank you went someone tells us that we've done a wonderful job. If we were to accept God fully in is charitable offer of grace, we would be forced to in to an auckward corner of having to say, thankyou all the while knowing that we had nothing to do with it. I feel this way all the time when someone tells me that I've done an wonderful job with the music, "you have such a lovely voice, thank you so much, you did a wonderful job." What have I done, I didn't give myself this voice. I feel so auckward, I just don't know what to say. But all the while we play in our dung heeps, God waits patiently.
The patient love of God, it brings to mind the book of hosea. Hosea was told by God to marry a prostitue. He did so, but soon after Gomer, the wife, runs away and returns to her practices. God commands Hosea to go and find her, and Hosea, being under no legal obligation to do anything but have is wife stoned to death, goes, pays a great amount for her, and then returns with her to his home. The patient love of God is like this. He waits, watching with tears in his eyes as we wallow in our own dung, feeding our own ego, waiting for us to reach out and grab His hand before we drown in it all. This is how we can love God, not by choice but by example. Because God first loved us, we love and obey him in return. Like in The Taming of the Shrew God waits as "the groom enduring the billigerent bride with kindness, patience, and love."
And here is the promise. "In exchange for our humility and willingness to accept the charity of God, we are given a kingdom." The promise of eternal life, that we so often think is our prize for running the race, is in reality the finish line. Not what we get, but were we end up. "And a beggers kingdom is better than a proud man's delusion." We never think about it, we call it humility, but is it more often our pride?

Dé Céadaoin, Deireadh Fómhair 05, 2005

C.S. Lewis, the Birthday Adventure, and something much funnier

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it until now. I recently was reading the Screwtape letters, I know that I’ve mentioned that before, but there was something in particular that caught my eye. I’ll quote it here so that I get it right.
Speaking of the Fallacy of our Historical Christ…”We first make Him solely a teacher, and then conceal the very substantial agreement between His teachings and those of all other great moral teachers. For humans must not be allowed to notice that all great moralists are sent by the Enemy not to inform men but to remind them, to restate that primeval moral platitudes against our continual concealment of them. We make the Sophist: His raises up a Socrates to answer them.”
This last thought that God raised up all of what we would call moral thinkers is very intriguing to me. Evangelical Christians especially seem to be so shut of to the thought of any correct moral thinking could possibly come from anything but the Bible. I just believe that we should be open to the possibility, not that there are better ideas, but simply smarter people who can articulate something better than we could. There is a lot of correlation between the moral code in the Bible and those found in several of the major religions of the world. But that’s really all I want to say about this. Just an interesting thought that’s been coming up a lot lately.
My Birthday was this past Wednesday, the 28th. Thank you to all of you who happened to wish me a happy birthday. I know that I don’t announce it; it’s not something I’ve felt the need to announce. But this was defiantly one of the best, if not oddest birthdays ever. It started out in the morning when I discovered much to my chagrin that Darien has, of all things, a Farmers Market. Even though I’ve not seen a farm anywhere close to Darien they have a farmers market. It was quite a birthday surprise. So I perused the produce and picked up a small zucchini bread and a small bag of apples. It wasn’t Pennsylvania’s pride but it was all quite nice. So I came back to the office and Kelly and I prepared for Kids Choir that would happen later on that day. Kids Choir was great; we got to take the 1st graders off by themselves. It was a lot of fun to work with them and teach them the song that we had to work on. We had been told that if we were good, that there would be a surprise at the end of the practice, and was there ever. They sang happy birthday, and cupcakes. There was even one with my name on it, literally. This was the first time I’ve been t.p.’d normally I’m the one holding the roll.

After I got myself cleaned up Tim, Kelly, and I ran to the train station to catch the next one into town. Tim had gotten comp tickets to a concert from two performers that played with us the Sunday before. Oddly enough, it turned out that the concert was being put on by a Technologies Company and in fact was extremely private. It was an excellent concert, they played a Mozart Symphony, several of Bartok’s Romanian Dances, Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, and they ended with Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance. It was a great concert, and it was quite different to look down on the stage and see three people that we knew rather well, including the concertmaster Krystof. So yeah, I had a good birthday. When was the last time you got into a private concert.

On Saturday I when back into the city, visited Trinity Church on Wall Street and Broadway, then stood in line for three hours. You have to do that if you want a good ticket to the best show on Broadway right now. Spamalot, yes finally Monty Python has come to broadway, and they did it in a big way. They one best show, and the lead actress one best actress, its simply an amazing show. Irreverent like nothing else you’ll ever see but amazing. Tim Curry and David Hyde Pierce star in it, and do an absolutely wonderful job. They keep to the original script of the MP and the Holy Grail for the most part. They made a few changes to accommodate it being a musical and to update some of the humor. For instance, Lancelot is gay. Go figure.