“Gethsemane where heaven met me,
Redeemer crowned in endless praise,
my Savior name above all names,
King Jesus take the highest place
Oh, the power of the cross.”
Have you ever woken up to a song that is stuck in your head? Well, the above lyrics by Kari Jobe were stuck in my head when I woke up on a Saturday morning. And it just so happened that it was the same day my sisters and I would be going to a Kari Jobe concert at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.
My sisters and I embarked the notorious Los Angeles traffic taking the I-10 W to Los Angeles, followed the signs for I 10 W towards Santa Monica. As we drove to The Wiltern, I couldn’t help but take in the view around me. It was as if my eyes were opened, and I realized that there’s nothing really that great about Los Angeles. I realized that often times, society and Hollywood, portray it as this great big thing. Many times, I think we focus so much on the pretty side of Los Angeles, such as Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, that we often forget those “left out” places. As I took in the view I realized that were lots of buildings, which kind of gave it that impression of New York City. Buildings that were tall in stature, grandeur, and importance.
As we continued to drive, we passed the I-101 freeway, I noticed that there were paintings on the walls. My eyes saw the different paintings that lined the freeway. Paintings of murals that depicted children of different ethnicities playing which is known as the “L.A. Freeway Kids”.
There was a painting of outer space, as the planet Jupiter laid splat in the middle and a mural of Elvis Presley. When I made a comment to my older sister, about the murals, she said that they were put there, as a way to cover up the ubiquitous graffiti that is rampant throughout the streets of Los Angeles. She pointed out one painting and mentioned, that graffiti could still be faintly seen. As we continued driving on the freeway, I saw signs for the Broad Museum and The Walt Disney Concert Hall. We took our exit on South Western Avenue and headed towards Wilshire Blvd.
It was interesting to see, the different ethnicities that were in Los Angeles, from Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic and African American. However, I noticed that there were a lot of Hispanic and African American people on the street that we were on. I noticed people playing basketball in the park, as we drove by, and a swap meet occurred as we were waiting for the light to turn green. The ladies were selling shoes and coach purses. Furthermore, there was a sidewalk, that had a line of tents. The tents consisted of homeless people living there with their shopping carts nearby. Seeing them broke my heart, as it made me realize that they don’t have a place to live. But made me grateful and appreciative to live in an apartment. We continued to drive and the scenery changed as we came into view with lots of restaurants and stores. Suddenly we saw the big sign “Wiltern” and knew we had arrived.
As we tried to find parking, my twin sister and I were appalled at the long line our eyes beheld. We made our way to the line, as we headed to our destination, I observed that there were several street vendors in front of The Wiltern selling hot dogs. The aroma hit my nose, and I was tempted to buy a hot dog, little to realize that I didn’t have cash. My sisters and I waited in line for several minutes, before the doors opened and they allowed us in. We get our bags checked, and proceeded to head inside.
The History Behind The Wiltern
One of my classmates asked me what I was going to do for my Spring break. When I told her that I was going to go to the Wiltern to see a concert, she asked me what that was. Now for those of you who don’t know what the Wiltern is. The Wiltern is a theater located in Los Angeles, California. It’s a 12 story building that has Art Deco landmark (which was a decorative style in the 1920’s and 1930’s). The Wiltern can seat 1,850 people. The building was built in 1931 and the venue has housed different events. Throughout it’s built the Wiltern, was used as a theater for Warner Brothers and often held music recitals up until the late 1960’s. The Wiltern theater went under renovations as it was converted into a performing arts center in the early 80’s hoping to host live concerts and Broadway performances. Since then, The Wiltern has had a line of well-known performers at their theater; from the late David Bowie (which they paid tribute to), The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus and Tori Kelley to name a few. When we stepped inside The Wiltern, I perceived that the walls had pictures of past performers, with a plaque of an inscription.
Background History on Kari Jobe
Now for those of you who don’t know who Kari Jobe is, she’s a Christian contemporary musician. She made her first album in 2009 and received one Grammy award nomination and won a Dove award (which is affiliated with the Gospel Music Association) and is awarded in the Christian music industry. She’s best known for singing “Revelation Song” which talks about the glory of Christ, His attributes and leans on biblical references. The song begins with,
“Worthy is the lamb, who was slain
Holy, holy is Thee
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven’s mercy seat.”
Since releasing her first album in 2009 titled Kari Jobe, Kari has gone on to release several more albums. In 2012, she released another album titled Where I Find You, and in 2014 released a live worship album titled Majestic. When asked about the album Majestic and the background behind it, Kari stated, “The music is about helping people connect with the majesty of God.” One of her well-known songs from her Majestic album is “Forever” which states about Christ’s death on the cross, His triumph over death, and the power of the resurrection. Most recently on February 3rd, 2017 Kari Jobe released her fourth album titled The Garden which she stated the idea came about when her sister suffered through a miscarriage. Upon this, she wanted to make an album about pain and going through the hardships in life. In a video about The Garden album, Kari states that it’s okay to ask God why things happen in life. But that through it all, she was reminded that the Lord was near. She stated that going through this season of uncharted waters, that the songs were a deliverance for her, to say things to God and experience His presence.
The Concert Experience
As I walked to my seat (which was a nosebleed seat up in the balcony) I realized that almost everyone was donning some sort of floral apparel. Whether that was their blouse or kimono. The lights dimmed to indicate that the show was about to start. However, before that happened an organization called World Vision came on stage. The speaker Jason told the audience about his trip to Ethiopia and the cultural shock that he encountered as he came into contact with children, who were only 13 years old. These kids had to raise their siblings by themselves because their parents were no longer with them. Jason explained the living conditions, and how at first he was stubborn to the Lord’s calling to sponsor a child. But, after much prayer that he ended up sponsoring a child. At the end of his message, Jason encouraged the audience by telling them that any dollar could make a difference. World Vision is a Christian organization that seeks to partner with communities and tackles poverty and injustice. Their goal is to give a better future for those kids.
Right after Jason left, the opening act Bryan and Katie Torwalt come on stage and sang some of their songs. (Personally, I had never heard of them, so they were completely new to me, although my sisters had heard of them before). They finished their opening act, by singing “Holy Spirit” proclaiming and asking the Holy Spirit to help them become more aware of His presence.
(Image by Rebecca Anne Jarmin. @rannej )
Afterward, the show began with the headliner Kari Jobe. There were lights, smoke, videos and sound effects. Kari first began by singing “The Garden” which was about how often time things don’t work out how we would have wanted them to, but God is at work in a different way. Following this, she sang “Heal our Land,” which was Kari asking the Holy Spirit to come and speak to His church and pour out His presence. Afterward, she sang “Speak to me,” which was about being still and hearing the Lord’s voice. Moreover, Kari sang “Revelation Song.” One of my favorite things about worship concerts is hearing the unison of voices as they all come together, sounding like one voice, and praising the Lord. At this point, Cody Carnes and Kari sang “Closer to Your Heart” which was being filled with awe and wonder of who God is. It was sweet to be reminded that we serve a God of surprises.
(Image by Claire Ramey @claireramey http://rameyphotoco.com/ )
Furthermore, Kari sang, “Oh the Power,” which talked about the Garden of Gethsemane, and having that intimacy with the Lord. Finally, Kari concluded her show by singing “Forever”. The show ends and my sisters and I head back to the parking lot.
As we drove home, we found ourselves talking about the concert experience, how a lot of Kari’s songs were about wanting to feel and hear the presence of God. I found myself thinking about the city of Los Angeles, and how many people were truly hungry for the Word of God.