Gareth Gilkeson: "Sometimes weíre taught that if you believe too much in the grace of God, then youíll abuse it. Itís not an excuse for us; itís a powerful change agent.'
Hailing from Bangor, Northern Ireland, Rend Collective Experiment’s acclaim began at home as a movement of twentysomethings that now has begun to spread across Europe to the Americas and beyond. Charting a unique course, Rend Collective Experiment is a group of friends pondering together how to make sense of life, God and community. What Rend Collective Experiment’s 15-plus members add to the conversation are melodies, harmonic progression and lyrics that are Scriptural and contemporary, fresh and ancient.
The buzz that greeted Rend Collective Experiment's debut release, Organic Family Hymnal, included a viral "iPhone worship" video, UK tours with Francis Chan and Shane Claiborne, and a US tour with Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio.
Now the next audio assault, Homemade Worship By Handmade People, is exactly what the title suggests. Recorded in church halls and houses in their organic collective style, this new collection of worship songs fuse a depth of sung theology and fresh melodies that reflect God-given creativity. Themes of redemption, devotion and celebration make this a complete worship experience with soundscapes that span from Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons to Fleet Foxes and Snow Patrol.
“Everything we do is growing in a natural, non-manufactured environment,” band leader Gareth Gilkeson shares. “Rend was a student movement representing numerous churches, and the ‘collective’ grew out of that. The songs came from an organic environment, searching after the heart of God. We wanted to reflect what God was doing and teaching us, and offer that up for the rest of the world to hear.” As for the group’s unusual moniker, Rend Collective Experiment is a nod to the places in Scripture where it says to “rend your hearts” and not your garments,” a bold call to be genuine.
“Those passages are a reminder not to put on a show, but to be real and authentic in all we do,” Gareth explains. “In Isaiah it also says ‘rend the heavens and come down,’ so a connection with God warrants an authentic response. And the ‘experiment’ part is there because nobody knows where we’re at really, do we? We’re all just experimenting with life and going with it.”
I had the great opportunity to interview band member Gareth Gilkeson about the first single from Homemade Worship by Handmade People, “Second Chance.”
Please tell me the message behind the song “Second Chance.” How can listeners apply that message in their walks as Christians when they listen to the song?
The song, as you can tell, has come out of a place of realizing failure and personal mistakes--those days where you know you are not who you want to be. There are two options. The first is to wallow in guilt. The second is to actually take what the Bible says and put it into action. To put to action the promises of redemption and the fact the Cross is about the grace of God and not about the Law of God. Putting that into action you need to realize that grace is something that changes us and gives all of us a second chance.
I think about the story in John 8 with the adulterous woman. Jesus had options. He said, “You can stone her” or like He does with all of us, He says “go and sin no more” and gave her a second chance. I think that’s what this song is about. There’s countless second chances given at the Cross. Also, grace calls us for much more than that. Grace calls us to be bigger than our mistakes. That’s where the song comes from. It is a declaration that we’re going to believe what the Bible says.
A greater sin is walking around with guilt and not trusting that what God says is true. If we don’t believe God’s Word, we’re calling Him a liar. That’s the song and it’s very emotional to all of us when we play the song. That idea of redemption has had challenges in the church. Sometimes we’re taught that if you believe too much in the grace of God, then you’ll abuse it. It’s not an excuse for us; it’s a powerful change agent. We’re forgiven, we have a fresh heart and we have new opportunities. God can re-create us.
Please tell me which Bible verses you used to write the song.
John 8:10-12: “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’ Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”
Lyrics: My future hangs on this
You make preciousness from dust
Please don't stop creating me
Your blood offers the chance
To rewind to innocence
Reborn, perfect as a child
Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it's where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven's heart
When sin and ugliness
Collide with redemption's kiss
Beauty awakens by romance
Always inside this mess
I have found forgiveness
Mercy as infinite as You
Countless second chances
We've been given at the cross
Countless second chances
We've been given at the cross
Fragments of brokenness
Salvaged by the art of grace
You craft life from our mistakes
Black skies of my regrets
Outshone by this kindness
New life dawns over my soul
IVP’s Bible commentary: “When Jesus calls for the one without sin to cast the first stone He accomplishes several things: it relieves Him from the charge of having instigated a stoning; it ensures there will not be a stoning, since none of the accusers will want to take responsibility for it; and it causes them to reflect on their own sinfulness before God. It has often been suggested that the eldest accusers were the first to leave because they recognized their own sinfulness more readily. However, leaving in this order may simply reflect the custom of deferring to the elders. In any case, their withdrawal was in fact a confession of sin. Those who came to condemn ended up condemning themselves by not casting a stone. Jesus is left alone, sitting on the ground, bent over and writing, with the woman standing before Him.
“He straightens up and asks for a report of what happened, as if he had been totally oblivious to what took place as He concentrated on His writing. He does not ask her about the charges but rather about that aspect of the situation most heartening to the woman: Where are they? Has no one condemned you? They had of course condemned her in their accusations, but by not following through on the charge they had thrown out her case. Jesus grants pardon, not acquittal, since the call to leave off sinning shows he knew she was indeed guilty of the adultery. His non-condemnation is quite different from theirs. They wanted to condemn but lacked the opportunity; He could have done so, but He did not. Here is mercy and righteousness. He condemned the sin and not the sinner. But more than that, He called her to a new life. The gospel is not only the forgiveness of sins, but a new quality of life that overcomes the power of sin.
“But there is One left who could still execute the judgment—the only One present who was without sin and thus could throw the first stone. Is she hopeful at this point or still quite frightened? We can only speculate as to whether the woman was familiar with Jesus and His embodiment of the mercy of God. In any case, she becomes a memorable example of the fact that "God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (3:17). Jesus says to her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on no longer sin."
This first single, “Second Chance,” is one of the best worship songs I've ever heard. I'm completely convicted by the strong lyrics and find immense comfort in this song filled with biblical truth. I am especially comforted by the truth of the lyrics of the song: “Oh Your Cross it changes everything, there my world begins again with You, Oh Your Cross it’s where my hope re-starts, A second chance is Heaven’s Heart.” Amen!
Homemade Worship By Handmade People is the kind of unique worship album I've only dreamed was possible and is an incredible follow-up to Organic Family Hymnal. If you like “gourmet” worship songs like "God Of This City" by Bluetree and “Beautiful Things” by Gungor, this album is for you. This album builds on the momentum of Rend Collective Experiment’s stand-out tracks “Movements” and “Come On My Soul,” and takes it up a notch musically. This is surely one of the top worship albums ever made.
The message behind “Second Chance” is the story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Although we are all guilty and deserve judgment, our sinless Savior’s “blood offers the chance to rewind to innocence, reborn, perfect as a child.” As the song so poetically portrays, “a second chance is Heaven’s Heart.” Amen to that!
Posted February 21, 2012 | NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.