Rich Mullins, Twenty Years Alive

Today marks twenty years since Rich Mullins’ death. I still remember reading the news in a computer lab in the basement of Klein Hall at Messiah College. My friend David (who I would later marry) emailed me with the story. It took my breath.
From the opening notes of “The World As Best As I Can Remember It,” his music taught me that Christian worship and music could be better than what was being promoted on the radio. And when “A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band” came out, I found a top-ten lifetime album. Those of you who know him as the guy who wrote “Awesome God” — you don’t know his best music. It’s worth looking into.
I’m so grateful I got to see him play once. He performed in the chapel at Gordon College and I drove home from college for the weekend to attend the concert. A local duo named Harrod and Funck opened for him — I was a fan of theirs, too. I’m pretty sure the poster from that night is still up in my attic.
At the end of his concerts, Rich always had the audience stand and sing the doxology unaccompanied.  While the crowd was singing in harmony with eyes closed, he would slip off the stage. He wanted to be absent when the applause started.
In his song “Elijah,” Rich wrote
But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah 
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire 
And when I look back on the stars 
Well, It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park 
And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye
The weekend that Rich passed away, David happened to be headed to Manhattan. He said he was going to light a candle in Central Park for Rich. When Rich said goodbye, it broke our hearts a little. But we knew it didn’t break his heart.

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