John Michael Talbot brings music, ministry, laughter to Pratt mission
‘Let the old self die, so the new self can rise up in Christ’
You may have heard John Michael Talbot’s music; you may have read his books; and you may even know that he’s the founder of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, headquartered in Arkansas.
What you probably don’t know -- but which was made abundantly clear at the one-night mission at Sacred Heart Church in Pratt Nov. 17 -- is that he has a great sense of humor. Interspersed throughout his hauntingly beautiful music, between the prayers and the preaching, were laugh-out-loud commentaries – sometimes to share a message, and at others just to bring a smile to the filled church.
“No, the guys from ‘Duck Dynasty’ aren’t here,” he said with a smile as he first stood at the ambo with his guitar in hand.
Talbot sports a long, grey beard and wears a brown cassock representing the monastic community he started.
At one point he asked everyone to stand up and rock back and fourth to the music: “Hold each other’s hands -- you can use Purell later. What a great symbol of your unity in the Lord. ... One of the things we’ve got to learn to do better in Catholic churches is sing! It’s so easy. … I go to parishes all across America. … I know what the churches are like in America. “And we are terrible singers,” he said, smiling. “All across the world Catholics are singing. In Africa they’re singing! In India they’re singing. In Asia they’re singing. Even in Latin America. … But in North America and Western Europe they’re not singing….”
Well, maybe not loudly anyway, or with a great deal of zest. “We need to sing so that they can hear us in Dodge City!” he said.
Talbot’s been singing since he was a boy -- since before he toured with Mason Proffit in the early 70s with his brother, Terry. The band opened for John Denver, the Doobie Brothers, and others; Talbot was also a talented banjo player; Earl Scruggs called him the “best banjo player” he’d ever heard.
But on this night, the banjo stayed home, and it was Talbot’s guitar and beautiful voice that filled Sacred Heart. In the 90-minute presentation, Talbot spoke of healing, which he said for most of us had to do with emotional and thought patterns we get into that “can be very unhealthy.”
“You have to let them die so we can rise up, a new person in Christ,” he said. “We can be healed. Jesus can do that every day, if we simply turn to him and let go and let God. Let the old self die, so the new person can rise up in Christ.”
He stressed the importance of revitalizing the Catholic Church, of reaching out to others as Pope Francis has urged, of taking part in the “New Evangelism,” being an example of Christ to everyone around you.
Special thanks to all the organizers who helped bring John Michael Talbot to Sacred Heart, in particular Sacred Heart DRE Erin Crouch, an associate of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity.
A brief, 25-minute podcast from the event, as well as several color photos, can be accessed and downloaded from www.dcdiocese.org/register.