I wrote a new post for Wineskins.org this week entitled “The Sacrament of Singing.”
I’d invite you not only to visit and read it, but keep up with the great things being done and written over at Wineskins.org.
I’ve always been a part of the local church.
It’s always been an important part of my life.
For the last 19 years, I’ve been in worship leadership, from churches of 20 to churches of 2200…and everywhere in between.
But now, my leadership perspective is different from the preaching position. Every day is a new challenge. Every day, I am continually reminded and every day I see and feel the need to do everything I can to love, respect, and to a certain degree, protect the church that I”m so Blessed to serve. Yes I know, being the “church protector” is really not in any preacher’s written job description. But one thing I’ve learned in the short time (just over a year) that I’ve been preaching every Sunday (as opposed to leading worship), is that I see the relationships, the good, the bad, the fractures, the brokenness, and I’m brought into situations that are directly affected by and, in a sort of cycle, can directly affect the unity of the Church. And I seem to have this feeling welling up inside me that makes me feel like a big part of my responsibility is to do whatever I can within my “power” to help protect and unify Christ’s body, the church.
Combine that with the fact that I’m in a place where everything seems to come back to Matthew 18, and the key teaching Jesus offers there. I remember the first time I ever really was challenged about this incredibly important word from Jesus on relationships, conflict, and the way Christ calls us to deal with each other as members of Christ’s body and as kingdom disciples.
One way Satan continually attacks the Church is through gossip…within, and outside of the church.
Guard your ears, don’t believe hearsay, and don’t contribute to it. Just because you hear something from someone who knows someone who used to go to your church and they say something, doesn’t mean its accurate!
We are the body of Christ. We need each other. The “world” is watching and sees when we are fractured by broken relationships, rumors, and by people who think it’s their place to “talk” about what they perceive to be correct about what’s going on “at church.” Church is People. Let’s love each other, serve each other. You want to know one reason the church finds itself in our current situation? When people look at us, they see people bickering, gossiping behind each other’s backs. Is that the kind of reputation Christ’s body is deserving of? Is that the type of Church that can make a difference in a community?
Be the difference you wish to see in the Church.
Here’s another piece I wrote last year (or year before?) on a lyric that oft gets “sung over” without allowing the power to sink in. Think about it when you sing “O Holy Night” this year!
Last Christmas, I wrote this post amidst a sea of unrest, politically and otherwise. In light of recent tragic events, especially in Orlando, I’m reposting it here today.
There has been a lot of swirling conversation going on around me, both physically and virtually, about what has gone on in the world around us these last few weeks…Syria, San Bernardino, Jerry Falwell…and on and on. It was so much that today, I’d had enough and I needed a moment to just sit, be, listen and be quiet…in the quiet, I was overcome by the lyrics of one of the world’s most beloved Christmas Carols…and I had to write a bit about it. I’ll come back to the other verses and the backstory of this wonderful Adolphe Adam carol, Cantique de Noel, on another day.
[And I will return to my series of posts on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” later this week. But for a moment today, amidst the hatred, vitriolic speech, harsh judgment and language found in my Facebook feed and in other social and news media, I paused today just to breathe in and claim the lyrics of a Christmas Carol that so many love…but I’m afraid to have sung too glibly over the years.]
The third verse of “Oh Holy Night” speaks of a world in which those who claim to follow Jesus are living out he calls all of his followers to in his subversive Gospel.
That Gospel is deeply rooted in Love of God and Love of Others…and so many claim the first part of that Call…the part about loving God. But the back half…well, I’m afraid some have given Christ a bad name in how we’ve lived that out in recent days, weeks and months…that love of “others” is not one we can or should place provisions or privileges on…it’s unconditional love for all of our brothers and sisters…
“Truly He taught us
to love one another;
His law is Love
and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break,
for the slave is our brother,
And in his name
all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy
in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise
his Holy name!”
Come, Lord Jesus!
COME EMMANUEL #2, the second in a short series about the season of Advent, Christmas, and the powerful music we love to hear this time of year.
As the anticipation, the “Watching and waiting, looking above” continues, we move (backward) to the first verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Perhaps, this is the most poignant of this hymns litany of verses, with its begging and pleading for Messiah to come…little did they know just what that Messiah would look like.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee,
As I stated in last week’s blog, each verses gives us a glimpse into a different prophecy, a different Name identified in scripture. “Emmanuel” meaning “God is With Us” (or even better translated “God is With us Now”, we know well from the prophecy of Isaiah which is reiterated in Matthew & Luke’s account of the birth narrative. (Is. 7:14, Mt 1:23)
Musically speaking, this hymn…
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Each year, I share some posts I wrote a few years ago about some Christmas hymns. Here’s part one of that installment.
No sooner had the thanksgiving dressing been put away to become a late-afternoon football snack than the Christmas decor began to make its grand entrance from almost a years worth of being stored away!
Isn’t this story so true in many of our homes? Seems like some folks
have been ready to unleash Burl Ives, Ray Conniff, Mitch Miller and Jose Feliciano since mid-August…but alas, we can hold them off no longer. For the season of anticipating Christmas is finally here…the Advent of Christ is upon us according to the Christian Calendar.
Maybe it is the weather of the last few days (both at home and in Chicago), but I’ve been thinking about the lyrics of one of my favorite Christmas hymns which guides us through the advent story so well…and does so with such a potent lyrical connection for us today that I really can’t wait to start singing…
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