Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm thinking about Intimacy - e*g

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

I love/hate the facebook classroom for the Essentials Worship Course I've been taking these last 10+ weeks. Connecting with worshippers/worship leaders/artistic people from all over the world has filled a need I have to connect with others who share the same passions I do.

The downside has been that it's a virtual connecting with little-to-no chance of an actual physical meeting.

I mean, I would L-O-V-E to be able to call up my new friend Melissa U up in Canada and ask her to grab a cup of coffee with me or get together see what new creative venture we could dream up together. Virtual is nice, but it's just not the same as face-to-face contact.

I keep wanting to say that "well...I guess I'll see ya in heaven," but after e*b and the realization that Heaven is wherever God is...I'm left speechless and a little turned on my head as I think about being with God and somehow being with my Essentials friends right now as well. Just wish I could reach out and give them a squeeze.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

e*g Honor and Integrity

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

The themes this week are intimacy and integrity in worship leading. I think our church has been extremely blessed by a worship leader who models integrity at every turn. Here's what I said about him in my class post:

Our worship pastor is a man of great integrity. He has steadfastly modeled what it is to cry out to God and go deeper with Him in the midst of great trials. He consistently “elevates God as the central figure in our worship expression” and is infinitely “more concerned that God become famous through our platforms and actions than…[being] regarded because of our visibility and words.”[1]

Integrity is the foundation from which our intimacy with the Lord flows. "Our interior foundation must be able to bear the weight of our spiritual responsibilities." [2] I want to honor Robin and say that he is one of the most humble men I know. He exudes integrity. He has not wavered in ensuring that His interior foundation derive strength from personal time with God. He has relentlessly pursued intimacy with God and his leading flows increasingly from a yielded heart that is responding to God's love.

I am honored to serve under such a leader.

1. Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Leadership, 8
2. Dan Wilt, Inside Worship Magazine, "The Sound of Your Life"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Essentials*Red Creative Project

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

When week 5 roles around, it's always a little stressful around the essentials hallway...I've known for 4 weeks that I would have a creative project due in week 5. Ideas linger in the back of my mind...but nothing really comes into focus that is "easy." And easy would really be best for me in order to fit it in with daily life. I take a deep breath and try to figure out what exactly to create that is unique and will draw someone closer to Jesus.

Bear with me as I am somewhat vulnerable here...I have this bent in me that pushes me to do something different than everyone else. Most write songs. Really amazing songs. But since I don't fancy myself that great of a musician/songwriter, I'd rather not put myself up with all of those who are truly incredible (and this course is full of them!) It feels safer, I guess, to do something different. Then there's no one to compare me to.

But when I assessed how much time I thought I could devote to the project, the idea I had originally decided to go with (a silk painting with a Communion theme) would take too long...too many steps involved that required lengths of uninterrupted time (very hard to come by at my house). As I fought the panic of the encroaching deadline, I opted for the "easier", less-complicated (read: fewer actual steps involved) song-writing idea because I couldn't think of anything else I could possibly do.

I opened up my Bible (or Biblegateway as the case may be) and read through the Scriptures normally read for Communion. This is the sacrament that has most captured my attention during Essentials Red and the one my original project would spring from. Almost immediately, a song began forming in my head that went with the image I had wanted to paint. The way it fell together was amazing and God-breathed for me.

The funny thing is that once I finished the song, the other project fell together as well. The one I thought would take too long. For some reason, He wanted both of them, but had to withold the one in order to get me to the song. He knows what it takes to get from us what He put in us.

It's a 2-for-1 :-)

You can listen to the song and access the chord chart by clicking here.

To view the silk painting, you can go here.

And I highly recommend checking out the other creative projects in Essentials Blue and Essentials Red. There aren't any yet for Essentials Green, but check back in about 5 weeks.

Leave comments! I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Statement on Worship History - e*r week 5 discussion question

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

Studying historic worship practices enriches our present worship experience, helping us to be more intentional in our worship and to receive greater revelation of who God is. It is easy to fall into the trap that the present revelation is the only right one. But since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever [1], it behooves us to glean from the past, to see and understand past revelations and their responses (worship practices) to those revelations because we gain insight into our present and future [2].

Historically, the church has approached time with great intentionality. The Christian year provides an amazing framework which allows freedom and flexibility while providing a common rhythm bringing unity to the body of Christ. It is a means by which we can be constantly mindful of what God has done for us, drawing us into deeper intimacy as we remember Him. [3]

Appreciating the value of crafted prayers allows us to draw from the theological riches, “perspectives, personalities, times and places” [4] of those who have gone before. We also become aware of our responsibility to craft prayers as a legacy for those who follow us.

The public reading of Scriptures also serves to help us remember Him. My father memorizes large portions of Scripture and often presents a long passage in dramatic monologue. These long recitations of Scripture at first glance to a modern-day Christian may seem boring and tedious, but the power of the spoken Word quickly draws in the listener as the Word comes alive and transforms the hearer.

Remembering Him through the sacraments prophetically speaks of the God who transcends time and space yet willingly confined Himself to it so that we might be restored to relationship and abundant life. “They remind the worshipper inwardly that God has acted to save and restore them, and is at work to reveal His new creation in their very lives.” [5]

Art and music, particularly of the liturgical or communal kind, make “visible that which cannot be seen with ordinary eyes.” [6] They are effective instruments that the church can use to freshly apply historic worship practices to today. Music can turn an ancient prayer into a song that lingers on in the memory of the singer/hearer long after it has been sung. Art can turn the perspective on an ancient sacrament and make it new again to the participant. Art and music serve to help us remember Him through multi-faceted worship practices, drawing riches from the past into the present which are then built upon and invested into our future.

1. Hebrews 13:8
2. Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship History, 3
3. ibid, 5
4. ibid, 17
5. ibid, 24
6. James F. White, Introduction to Christian Worship (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press), 116

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On art and music - e*r week 4 Discussion Question

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

The class administrators removed the blog post requirement from the Essentials Red course. Seeing as I've been sucking wind in this race called life lately due to my dh having to be out of town more than usual, for now, I'm just posting my discussion question answers until I have time to blog about the other deep thoughts this course is encouraging me to have. Here's what I wrote for this week:

“Art has the capacity to bypass the critical faculties of the mind and to speak directly into the soul of the observer.” [1]

This past Advent season, the staff at our church decided to try something new and pull a few visual artists together to collaborate on a project for Advent. There were five of us with the common theme of a seed sprouting into a fully formed flower. Each artist took a different stage of growth and interpreted it on canvas as it related to that week of Advent. Each Sunday of Advent, the piece that corresponded was displayed in the Sunday morning service.

There were many God stories from that process for me personally as well as amongst the group of artists. But one of the most striking stories came from a congregant who took time after the service to go and look at the paintings and ask God to speak to him through them. God spoke directly to this man’s soul and confirmed the work He was doing in His heart. He felt encouraged and strengthened.

This project was realized because our church staff took initiative to call out a few artists, to give us a framework to work within, and to release us to create. Because they took a “risk,” we the artists were greatly blessed by the unity that God wrought in our paintings, and the observers were blessed as God spoke to them through our creative processes.

Artists of all kinds need to be nurtured, called out, challenged, and embraced (to name a few) by church leaders and then given the freedom to create without fear. In this environment, new art can bring forth fresh expressions of the timeless truths that we seek to celebrate in the Christian year.

1. Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship History, 31.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On Baptism - e*r Week 3 Discussion Question

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

I attended a small Evangelical church in Spain in the early 90's. I remember being struck by the high importance they placed on baptism, particularly the preparation period leading up to the baptism. Something about the depth of thought and length of time that they required their members to go through before taking the step of baptism and the great celebration that followed each one drew me in to a greater understanding of the seriousness of this sacrament and made me want to participate in it again, even though my own baptism when I was younger had been utterly sincere.

I’ll never forget one of the baptisms I got to attend at the Lake of Banyoles. An all day affair, we ate together (communion), prayed and worshiped together, celebrating the lives of those being baptized. We gathered down at the shore as one by one they went in, rejoicing as each one came out of the water representing new life in Christ. The crowning touch was the enthusiastic flamenco-style guitar playing as people broke out into worship at the end.

What’s the fresh application for today? Maintain the depth of meaning of baptism, move it out of doors on occasion, eat and fellowship with one another, and celebrate! The old is gone. The new is here!