Hearing the Music

Results filtered by “Worship”

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

The Horror

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Welcome back — to me! It was great to get away for a couple of weeks, relax, spend time with family and friends and enjoy our beautiful state. But it is also good to be back among friends and colleagues walking through the ups and downs of life together. 

As we have opportunity from time to time to break away for vacation, we are often reminded upon return that the world has not “rested”. I was reminded of this vividly with the two mass shootings that happened in our country while we were away. Once again we are confronted with the atrocity that one of God’s image bearers is willing to inflict on another image bearer.

Perhaps not coincidentally both Lisa and I read Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness on our break. For those not familiar it is a novella that is often included in the list of best books ever written. It definitely does not make the list because of its cheery theme or its uplifting title. I suspect it makes the list because of it penetrating honesty about the human condition. In short the book follows Marlowe as he makes his way up the River Congo during the imperial period in which Belgium was colonizing the African country we now know as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of particular interest for Marlowe is a man named Kurtz, who works for “the company” and has penetrated deep into the recesses of the country. As a true renaissance man, Kurtz came to the Congo with wonderful intentions to benefit the natives. However, when Marlowe locates him he is physically sick, but more to the point his soul has been corrupted and he has set himself up as a sort of demigod among the natives inducing them to worship him and in return taking advantage of them and their natural resources (ivory). Marlowe is able to get Kurtz aboard his steamer and begin to make their way back up the river towards civilization. But before they can arrive Kurtz dies. Just before he expires, Marlowe observes him wrestling with himself as he recounts his days. As his musings come to an end and his life ebbs away, with great clarity of realization he exclaims, “The horror. The horror.”

What a picture it is of man without the healing touch of a Beautiful Savior. Conrad has captured so poignantly the trajectory of our lives, no matter how good our intentions, without the life transforming power of the Gospel. It is easy to judge the shooters in our land or the militant members of the social and political “tribes” different than our own (Antifa, BLM, MAGA, MeToo, Alt-Right, Manosphere, SJA, etc…). We isolate ourselves with our favorite voices and newsfeeds, but we must watch out lest, like Kurtz, we find that “the wilderness loves us, embraces us and gets in our veins.” Always our hope is that in the midst of our wilderness YHWH holds us close as our Guide and Friend.

So this Sunday we will be heading back out to the wilderness, in particular Exodus 18, and we will be reminded that YHWH is indeed the hope of nations. We will be reintroduced to Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who “rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. (cf. 18:9)” May YHWH meet each of us and rescue us from our own heart of darkness.

 

 

Photo by Iqx Azmi on Unsplash

He Ascended Into Heaven

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When we speak of things we believe, we think of the Apostles’ Creed: "I believe in God the Father Almighty. I believe in Jesus Christ his only begotten son…", and so it goes until we come to these important truths,  "…(I believe Jesus) ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from there he will come to judge the living and the dead". One of the most under appreciated days of the Christian calendar occurs 40 days after Easter (which was yesterday), namely the day of ascension of Jesus to heaven.

Of course, Good Friday, Easter and even Pentecost get the headlines. And while every “Day” is important in its own way, I would posit that as far as the day-to-day of our lives go, Ascension Day, and the truths it represents, should be held in our high esteem. It is on Ascension Day that we recognize the supreme Lordship of Jesus. We remember that as the king now ascended to his throne, he is defeating all his (and our) enemies. We do not need to cower at our newsfeed or at interacting with our neighbors who are so different from us. We remember that his is a kingdom of restoration and renewal. We recall that even now he is making all manner of things new. What an encouragement as we deal with wreck and ruin in our lives; wreck within and ruin without. We remember that not a hair can fall from our head without his will. He knows our weaknesses and our frailties, he remembers that we are dust. We look to him as the source of justice in a world that still sorely lacks. We know that one day our king will return and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father!  

So journey on. Wherever your road is taking you. Journey in confidence that you serve a risen and ASCENDED king who even now has taken the throne.


Photo by Tony Wallström on Unsplash

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