I have been attending worship services since I was about two weeks old. Most, but not all, of these have been services in a Baptist tradition (an American Baptist tradition). But this does not mean that this worship has been similar. I have worshipped, and led worship, that might be considered “traditional” – with hymns, responsive readings, pastoral prayers, and sermons preached from the pulpit. I have worshipped, and led worship, that might be considered “liturgical” or high church/high steeple – with printed and spoken liturgy, pipe organ, written prayers, robed clergy and choir. I have worshiped, and led worship, that might be considered “contemporary” – with praise bands, choruses, video projection and clips, a preacher standing among the people, extemporaneous prayers and a few “amens” from the congregation. I have worshiped, and led worship, that might be considered “contemplative” – with Taize music and chants, long periods of silence and prayer, warm visuals, candlelight and quiet background music.
These services have occurred in the humble country Baptist church of my upbringing, suburban and urban sanctuaries, modern worship space, a new church start that met in an exercise facility, outdoors under the stars and in a cave, in old rustic chapels at camp and in state parks, and in the beautiful sacred space at 3300 Fairlawn Drive in Columbus, Indiana. The places contributed to the worship experience, of that there is no doubt; but not more so than the people. I’ve worshipped in small groups, medium size groups, and large groups; with family and loved ones, covenant members of the same congregation, and complete strangers. I learned to worship sitting next to my Grandmother and my parents, my attention being directed to the hymnal, the sermon, or the prayer. I have been blessed to collaborate on worship with some truly gifted servants of Christ. Continue reading
The prayer focus for today on our FBC Columbus prayer calendar invites us to pray “to see as God sees”. Let’s stop and think about this for a moment.
What does God see? Everything. All things. Each one. From the smallest to the largest, the least to the greatest. God sees all.
How can we possibly see all that God sees? Continue reading
Holy Week begins this Sunday, April 9th as Christ followers all over the world observe and celebrate Palm Sunday and cross the threshold into the week of Jesus’ Passion.
To much of the world it will be just another week. Cable news networks will squawk about government investigations and stream “breaking news” banners across screens. World governments will flex muscle and attempt to wield influence over war torn and troubled lands. Everyday folk will get up, go to work and try to make a better life for themselves and their families. Children will go to school. Spring will make another run at grabbing a toehold and offering weather to match the calendar. And, in the midst of all that and more, we will remember and revisit the path our Savior walked during his last days and hours in Jerusalem.
It’s a pilgrimage journey we are invited to make during this week. Continue reading
The season of Lent is based on Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. Take 40 days, add Sundays, and you’ve got Lent – a season of preparation that leads us to Holy Week. I’ve come to think of Lent as a time of pilgrimage or journey. It’s an annual trek we undertake designed to reshape and form our thinking and living. It’s an opportunity to once again make Jesus the model or prototype that we follow, and to devote our attention to his life and teachings – as opposed to allowing so much of the noise from our over exposure to media (social and news) to shape our outlook.
I invite you to imagine, or better yet, set forth on a journey with Jesus during these Lenten days. A great way to do this is to commit to read through one of the Gospels. Follow the chronicle of Jesus’ life from its beginning to end (manger to cross and resurrection). Allow that story to read your life and what may be going on with you. Sit with it. Don’t be in a hurry. Continue reading
In Ecclesiastes 3:1 the Preacher/Teacher/Assembler of Wisdom sayings states: For everything there is a season, and a time for everything under heaven.
New Year’s, for me, has always been a time for reflection, goal setting, and re-engagement in the routines of life and ministry. I look forward to the quiet days, or moments, after the hub-bub of Christmas services, events and gatherings to sit with the Lord and ask, “What’s next? What time is it? What is it time for?”
Do you do this? Continue reading