Hearing the Music

Results filtered by “Encouragement”

Someone to Find Us

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Happy Friday

For the record, "Happy Friday" is intentional each and every week. It is not that I am never unhappy or that I am simply happy it's Friday in some "workin for the weekend" sense; no, it is more a sense of choosing to be happy whatever the circumstances may be. Choosing to be happy, because I have a Savior.

I ran across a series of Advent reflections* that capture both the need our fallen circumstances create, but also captures beautifully the provision that Christmas promises: 

"We can never really understand Christmas unless we understand how much we need that baby in the manger. Advent is a time to think about the ways that life without God is an empty husk …

For Christians, and nobody else really has much business thinking about Advent or observing it, there is something else. If there is no Christmas, there is no Cross, no answer to the problems of sin, separation, failure and pain. Advent is a time to think about what life would be like if we didn’t have faith in a Redeemer, a Savior who was ready, willing and able to complete the broken arc of our lives, forgive what is past and walk with us step by step to help us build something better in the time that is left.

Advent is a time to remember that we need something more than what we can summon with our own resources to make our lives work. It’s a time to remember how lost we would be if Someone hadn’t come to find us."

Thank God that Someone did come to find us. This week we will dive into our longest section of Isaiah 40 by looking at verses 12-26. Here we get more detail about the God that we were encouraged to “Behold” last week. Once again, our confidence grows beyond our circumstances as we realize this God that we trust in is incomparable!

 

Photo by Jack B on Unsplash

The types of things that help

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Oh there’s so much I’d like to have a chat about. Like how ARE you? How goes it with your soul? With your heart? With your spirits? How goes your joy in the Lord? Are you able to remember that you’re a child of the King and part of a kingdom of light, love and truth? I feel I waffle between all-consuming dread and inexpressible joy. I guess that describes life for me pre-COVID also!!

I will mention three offerings that are available to you, my fellow-travelers, as we onward go. They are the types of things that help me fill my mind and heart with that inexpressible joy when the all-consuming dread looms. Perhaps they could be of help to you too?

Wednesday prayer gatherings. Starting July 29, 7-8pm, we will meet weekly to pray together outside. The one unique voice we can offer into the fray of social discord is the voice of prayer. We will praise God, lament to him, and intercede for each other and the world. To aid our focus on lament we will have a painted board set up outside where we can write our lament. We can be unified as we see the hurts, the confusion, even the rage of each other’s hearts in our church family. There isn’t a wrong lament. God already knows what’s going on. But when we lament we take it out of our thoughts into the wounds of Jesus where he can turn it into a hope. If you’d prefer we write your lament down for you please send it in here. It will be written out (anonymously). 

Extended Playlist for Faith, Hope & Love on Spotify. Yes, that’s the second offering I have. Debbie Bukovietski and I are filled to the brim with those three wonderful words through working on materials for Arts & Rec in a box. So we wanted to offer a way for more than just the kids and families to be blessed by those words faith, hope and love. Many musicians have written on these words from I Corinthians 13. Also included in the playlist are songs about our three stories: Jesus and his disciples in the storm, the road to Emmaus and the good Samaritan. As always, lots of musical styles are included from the people of God to the people of God. Rejoice! Be filled! Take 75 minutes to hear truth sung. A lyric sheet is available to help you sing in voice or in spirit.

Singing together. The final thing I’ll mention is an offering from my heart about our singing together. Lately this is when that feeling of all-consuming dread has really reared its head in my heart. I’ll begin, however, by saying that working with my fellow music-makers to produce the recordings — sometimes from afar, sometimes together — has been very, very good: as in soul-lifting, easy, fun, sacred good. Those in quarantine produced such lovely ways for us to lift our voices “together.” My battle cry near the beginning of the lock down was “we’re not being told we can’t worship, we’re just being told we shouldn’t gather; that’s not the same thing.” Now we could probably disagree on that take of things. But it’s been my guiding principle, to help the people of God sing and worship in all ways during these days. And it’s been a joy. Moving into the parking lot was the next step and it’s really also been very, very good: seeing each other, being outside, raising our hallelujahs together to Jesus. But that feeling of dread I mentioned loomed whenever I thought about moving inside our sanctuary, and I had so many questions: “Why can one of the most unifying aspects to our gatherings and life together be a cause of division and fear among us? What about what science is saying? How do we respond to all those scriptures that tell us to sing? Do we not sing? Do we sing and hope for the best?” I just couldn’t see a way through. Those were dark times for me. However, dear Debbie joined me in prayer so many times over this (as did the choir), and she remembered Sasha telling her of a time when he and some Christian friends were not allowed into their normal gathering place on a Sunday. So what they did was move away from that area, to a place by the river, in the dead of winter, and sing their hearts out with so very much joy! “That’s it!” I cried when she told me that story. “That’s what we can do!” So when we move inside for worship we’ll have scripture, prayer, preaching of the word, communion even, in our sanctuary. We’ll have instrumental music—strings, piano, organ, percussion. Then at the end we’ll go outside, encircle the island out there and sing away! We’ll receive the Benediction and be dismissed. I have peace about this. The session has agreed with it and we’ll give it a try when we resume worshiping in the sanctuary on August 2 at 6pm.

We have so much to look forward to this coming Sunday. The entire Gracehill congregation will be joining us in the parking lot! Pastor Daniel Eguiluz will be opening God’s word with us with a passage from Genesis 18:1-16. We’ll send Daniel and Abby out to Peru as well as send Jacob and Erin Thielman out to North Carolina.

 

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Posted by Susan Guerra

A Little Less Lost

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A number of years ago I ran across this quote from the sunglassed Irishman,  and frontman for the band U2, Bono, that struck me:

          Your nature is a hard thing to change; it takes time…. I have heard of people who have life-changing, miraculous turnarounds, people set free from addiction after a single prayer, relationships saved where both parties "let go, and let God." But it was not like that for me. For all that "I was lost, I am found," it is probably more accurate to say, "I was really lost. I'm a little less so at the moment." And then a little less and a little less again. That to me is the spiritual life. The slow reworking and rebooting the computer at regular intervals, reading the small print of the service manual. It has slowly rebuilt me in a better image. It has taken years, though, and it is not over yet.
(U2 (with Neil McCormick), U2 by U2 (HarperCollins, 2006), p. 7)

I think a lot about what it means to follow Jesus, both for myself and as it concerns us together at Christ Church. There are couple things that I think this quote highlights well.  First, it is process; a long process, a slow process.  There are no short cuts. There is no warp speed. It is simply day by day looking to Jesus, day by day scouring His Word. It is the day by day rubbing shoulders with other followers of Jesus, rubbing off our sharp edges and anxieties. It is the weekly coming together for word and sacrament, worship and prayer. As Bono collaborator, Eugene Peterson, said discipleship is a “long obedience in the same direction”.   

The second thing that stands out with this quote is the idea of being a little less lost. If we take this to mean that we are getting more and more saved as we go, we will have missed the meaning and stumbled into a form of moralism. However, if by "a little less lost" Bono means, and we mean, that we more quickly orient ourselves back to True North when we stray, then we are talking true discipleship. To be a disciple of Jesus means we come back to Him; over and over and over. We mark our growth as Jesus’ followers not by how frequently (or infrequently) we stray, but rather by how quickly we abandon our forays and return to Jesus. This is how I read the little less lost. If you like more traditional language, we could also call it a life of repentance (turning from) and faith (turning to).

So I look forward to opening Luke 5 with you again this week (vv. 17-26). I look forward to prayers spoken and sung. I look forward to rubbing shoulders, shaking hands, and coming together around the Lord’s Table. Most of all I look forward to seeing Jesus yet again, having him imprinted on my whole being, so that I can go through my weeks a little less lost.

 

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

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