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Ancient trees stretch toward heaven
Moss covered; silent, waiting
Encircling like a theatre. Or choir.
Longing to praise Most High God; Creator

    Deafening thunder, sheer silence

Life-giving water abounds, trickling, misting
Down soft, earthen hillsides, making way
To the pool; swirling, roiling, waiting
Full of power and of life

    Ever-shifting, yet unchanging

In seasons peaceful, placid, gentle
Yet now, displaying that same might
Which cuts through stone, moves rocks
Uproots and fells ancient trees, longing to praise

 

I wrote that my lenten exercise is worshiping more. Spending more time in prayer, meditation and adoration; with my guitar and without. Here’s a poem I wrote Monday while on retreat. I walked the Way of The Cross at Mt Angel Abbey then just drove up into the hills above the Scotts Mills and the Crooked Finger area. I saw a sign pointing out Butte Creek Falls and other areas. I stopped, hiked a quarter mile down to the upper falls and sat in silence, trying to quiet my heart and mind to listen for God. I created this in response to that time.

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Today at church Sean preached. Since he normally leads worship he asked me to lead for him while he preaches and to bring a couple of our super talented high-schoolers with me. I was very excited to do this and so I agreed. We practiced on Thursday and warmed up early this morning and played through our opening set nicely. Then it happened (this moment will probably forever stick in my mind as it’s that embarrassing).

I should mention, that although Sean has previously given me the lead for a couple songs while he and I have ledworship together, this is the first time I was leading the whole shebang by myself. I should also mention that Sean’s preaching topic today was, in fact, worship itself. I should also mention that we celebrated communion this Sunday and that, as usual, we do that after the message during the final worship set. The perfect storm is brewing, you see.

Anyway, we went to play a contemplative-Crowder-esque All Creatures. We play this in “C” (Crowder plays it in “D”) and it’s great to have an acoustic guitar play capoed on the 5th fret in “G” to add a nice high-end bounce to the song. I was responsible for that, and also for starting the song out with Brian, our talented HS pianist/guitarist. The only problem was that I was capoed on the 4th fret and actually playing in “B”. I could immediately hear the grating and assumed I was at fault, so I had to stop, ask our bassist, Joanne, for a “C,” in embarrassment plainly see my fault, and capo one fret further. At this point there is nothing I can do to save face, anyone who can hear notes knows that the guitarist and the pianist were playing in different keys and everyone watched the guitarist humbly correct himself. All I could do at that point was say, “Sorry, let’s try that again,” and then take it from there,

I know you’re thinking that sounds too similar to many people’s nightmares and it was pretty bad, though not mortifying. You see, while Sean had been preaching on worship, he had not been preaching on forms and styles but rather the heart of worship; the heart of surrender, adoration for and glorying of God (specifically NOT for music itself) and all these other incredible impactful things that made every brother and sister in the congregation very forgiving and patient and focused on God and not on my terrible rookie mistake.

On top of all that, the set finished and I was getting ready to leave the stage when Beth, one of our sweet church secretaries bounded onto the stage, gave me a big kiss on the cheek and nearly tearing up told me how wonderful the worship was, and how great it was to see our teens leading worship. And again I was reminded in such a powerful way that God doesn’t want or need perfection in our service, rather God wants faithfulness. God doesn’t need me to lead worship like Crowder or Tomlin or Stanfill, God wants me to lead worship like imperfect Groves, and to point others to God in my weakness and imperfection.

I am so blessed by today; by my opportunity to lead our body, by the message I heard, by the humility of imperfection, and by the gut-wrenching grace and heart of God that Beth showed to me (and so many more, its a lifestyle for her).

I have been thinking alot about worship lately, specifically musical worship services in church.  Part of this is because while I was in the Philippines they asked me to run sort of a worship workshop for their local church’s worship team (that thought in itself is pretty amazing to me but I guess that’s the type of thing that happens on mission trips).  So, I was thinking about the worship leader’s role and listening to some live Passion and David Crowder* Band music and the thought occurred to me that ideally, the worship leader should function as a more traditional choir or band director.  As the worship team leads their brothers and sisters in in song, it’s not a performance in any sense, but rather, they are the accompaniment for the large choir of the congregation.  So as the worship leader sings and plays, his or her main role is specifically directing and leading the crowd in song.

This means the worship leader has the responsibility to explicitley direct the body in singing, clapping, dancing, shouting, praising, praying, silence, reflection, meditation, scripture reading and all other ways that we corporately worship God.  It was sort of an “Ah-ha” moment for me as I realized all the more that on stage, the leader should clearly communicate musical and spiritual direction to the body just as a choir director would with a choir.  Its such a blessing to see and hear other leaders understand and lead this way, I hope and pray to become this type of worship leader here in my community at FBC.  hope you enjoy these thoughts.  I am writing out an update from my short term mission trip to Cagayan De Oro in the Philippines, and will try posting some of the pics and thoughts here.  May God Bless and Keep You.

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