Friday, January 16, 2009

e*b week 1 - Echoes of Spirituality

For: The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen's University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

This first week in the Essentials Blue course, we've been reading Simply Christian by N.T. Wright. The first 4 chapters explore the idea of four "echoes of a voice: the longing for justice, the quest for spirituality, the hunger for relationships, and the delight in beauty." [1] We were to write about the one echo that most resonated with us as well as reflect on how well current worship music addresses each of the four echoes. Below is my answer:

As N.T. Wright explores four echoes as evidences of God’s reality, I deeply connected with the one he terms the “quest for spirituality.” As a westerner from a cessasionist background living in the Bible Belt, the concrete-covered springs were my reality growing up. The stark landscape that church and society offered me did much to shape how I viewed God: stern, rigid, demanding.

In my late teens, a forced change in profession for my dad thrust our family into the very “controversial” Vineyard movement where we all discovered the living springs which had hitherto been hidden beneath the surface of the concrete of our church and social experience.

Since childhood, the echoes of the God of justice,of beauty, and, at least intellectually, of relationship have formed a part of my understanding of God. But it has been the echo of spirituality that has woven the four together for me into an understanding that is living, breathing, organic, and deepening…revealing the unfathomable dimensions and facets of His amazing character. It keeps me ever looking, ever watching, ever searching, ever hungering for more of Him and more of His Presence.

With the tremendous variety found within the body of Christ, I have not encountered much difficulty in finding songs that put words to the echo I perceive the Lord to be moving in most strongly in a given setting.

As a worship artisan, I lean towards songs that embrace the truth of who God is and make declarations of His goodness and His love for us. I look for songs that lend themselves to facilitating others in singing a new song of response back to God and to creating space for the prophetic song to come forth. I have moved away from songs whose main focus is my depravity because I feel they cause me to focus on myself rather than on God and have moved towards songs that declare truth about God and bring my gaze to His…which is quite simply, where I want to stay focused forever.

1. N.T. Wright, Simply Christian (Harper Collins, 2006) x.

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