This morning, after one of our Sunday services, a group of lovely women came out to greet me. The mischievous expressions on their faces indicated to me that they were up to something, but I had no idea what. Then, on cue, they snapped into formation and said, in unison, “Chris, Beat It.” Immediately, I knew that my foolishness had traveled quicker and farther than I would have ever imagined possible.
This choreographed move in the narthex was a comical response to something that my pastor friends and I did for one of our brothers. My good friend, The Reverend Chris Barrett (pastor of St. James UMC in Spartanburg), is preparing for a bone marrow transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. This aggressive procedure is the last in a line of treatments he has been undergoing since May when he was diagnosed with a relapse of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
If you’ve never met Chris, he is a gregarious presence who lights up a room when he enters. His larger-than-life laugh can be heard within a country mile and cannot help be generate a smile in those fortunate enough to call Chris “friend.” He is a rare combination of brilliance and down-home authenticity. I have been blessed to call Chris a close friend for over 15 years.
That is why some of my other pastor friends and I wanted to do something for Chris to both make him laugh and brighten his day and encourage people to hold him and his wife, Elise, and three children daily in prayer.
Thus, the genesis of “Chris, Beat It” music video. It was remarkable to see how the very idea sparked people’s imaginations and created a desire to help. So, my list of people to thank is long: Chad and Kami Turner sang the vocals. Laurie Brown Pressly offered a couple of excellent ideas and taught me the choreography, which I in turn taught my friends. Steven Douglas gave half of his day to be our camera man for the “shoot,” and Helen Mitchell, Rene and Baylie Weeks, Steve Bloomquist, and Elizabeth Blair all shared with us costume materials. Of course, I can’t neglect to mention a great group of pastor friends with whom I am incredibly blessed to share this vocation and journey. Many thanks to my brothers Will Malambri (Central UMC, Florence), Brad Gray (St. Andrew’s Parish UMC, Charleston), Joe Cate (Buncombe Street UMC, Greenville), and Thomas Smith (New Beginnings UMC, Boiling Springs).
So, without further adieu, if you haven’t seen “Chris, Beat It” and you are reading this via e-mail, then click this link or visit my blog. Share it with your friends, but most of all pray for Chris and Elise Barrett.