“Be Thou My Vision” – written by Mary Elizabeth Byrne and Eleanor Henrietta Hull
Organ interludes preceding gospel groups, multi-lingual prayers of the people, and the Word of God presented by a “hip hop liturgist”? These are only a few examples of the kinds of worship I’ve been able to experience and offer to God in my time at JBU.
God allows us to experience him in different and creative ways.
Worship is meant to be creative. Gary Thomas, author of the Worship Arts textbook Sacred Pathways, writes: “Biblical figures of the Old and New Testaments confirmed to me that within the Christian faith there are many different and acceptable ways of demonstrating our love for God…. In fact, by worshiping God according to the way he made us, we are affirming his work as Creator.”
In this outpouring of praise, we meet with a multi-faceted God who does not lock himself in the cathedral or demand to be praised in the key of A major. Though in corporate worship we gather together as one unified body of Christ, he allows us to express truth and praise through our unique talents, interests, and contexts.
Over time as a Worship Arts major, I’ve learned that different people connect with God in different ways- whether that happens through joyful celebration, traditional liturgy, silent retreat, or thoughtful study. No one of these is better than another- God has created us uniquely. This is something to be celebrated!
May we find joy in our own unique encounters with God, as well as coming to value the ways our brothers and sisters seek God. Let us pray to continually appreciate variation and bless God through our special gifts.
A blank page is a beautiful thing, don’t you think?
It’s fresh, opportunistic, and challenging. It’s a space that’s capable of becoming anything.
Okay, maybe a blank page doesn’t always seem so exciting–at least, not to me. But, it’s my suspicion that I’m not alone in ever having felt intimidated by a blank page.
Does a blank page, with its blinking cursor or its empty blue lines, look overwhelming to you?
Does it look like the song that you’ve held in your mind for years but never transcribed? Does it look like the paper that you have to write by tomorrow, but feel incapable of finishing? Does the intimidating blankness look like all the things you’ve wanted to write and accomplish, but have never felt capable enough to complete, or even start?
No ability. No talent. Mediocre.
Perhaps your self-criticism swirls endlessly in your mind, and all the while that cursor blinks at you–no words on its left side, no ideas on its right side.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
Perhaps you echo it with words confirming your self-doubt.
“I can’t.” “I can’t.” “I can’t.”
And perhaps, by simply looking at that blank page, you become increasingly aware that you’re not good enough.
You’re not capable enough.
You are worthless.
And, isn’t it that continual rejection that we fear? We fear seeing our own inadequacies on paper, in black and white. We sit in that fear, marinate in it, and do anything to escape it, including sliding the mouse to the “X” at the top corner of the page, shutting down the computer program, crumpling up the paper, and avoiding the notion to write anything at all.
Do you want to know something strange? Every successful songwriter, novelist, playwright, or poet that I have ever studied has had trouble writing. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it really doesn’t seem strange at all that most writers struggle with writing.
You see, I’ve found that writing is more about courage than ability. You might think that you are incapable of writing that song, lyric, script, or novel.
But I think you’re wrong.
It is my sincere conviction that you do, in fact, have the ability to write–and not just write, but create–beautiful things.
William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
Allow your heart to overflow onto the words of your blank page. They don’t have to be well-constructed words; they must only be authentic words.
You see, we all have very important stories, memories, and experiences to share–stories that come so naturally to our minds and hearts that they feel as simple as breathing. And this, dear friend, is where you must begin–have the courage to breathe in and breathe out the things of your heart.
One of my favorite moments in the children’s novel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is when Aslan, the mighty and gentle ruler of Narnia says to Susan, “You have listened to fears, child. Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”
You have listened to fears, child.
Be unafraid. Be vulnerable enough to expose yourself to failure and rejection in the exchange of speaking things that simply must be heard.
And may the things that we speak be uttered in praise to the Lord.
It is time to inhale the breath He has given to you, and let it make you brave, once more.
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
Pour out our praise to You, only
Pick up your guitar.
Place your fingers on the keys.
Put your pen to the paper.
Breathe in, and be brave.
“Great Are You Lord” – All Sons and Daughters
© 2012 Integrity’s Alleluia! Music
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
“In Christ Alone” – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
© 2001 Thankyou Music
Maundy Thursday marks three key events in Jesus’ last week: his washing of his disciples’ feet, his institution of the Lord’s Supper, and his new commandment to love one another. The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin mandatum novum, referring to the “new commandment” Jesus taught his disciples.
As we get closer to Easter Sunday, may we reflect on what it means to love and serve others as Christ has loved and served us.
Rid me of myself, I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross
“Lead Me to the Cross”
© 2006 Hillsong Publishing