It's been a joy to be at NEXT Church this week. I was surprised to see my photo on the Presbyterian Mission Agency website, with a great article about the event. Take a look!Read More
Over the past year I’ve been collecting short songs and hymns focused on spiritual journey and pilgrimage. Some are walking songs or invite body movement; others feature a beautiful or thoughtful combination of text and tune. I have used many of them in congregations I've served as an interim/transitional musician and I'm happy to share the list with others as a resource.Read More
I was raised in churches where Praise and Worship was an important part of our Sunday morning service. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the congregation would spend the first part of the service singing, offering up-tempo praise choruses, hymns, and slower ballads that helped them focus their attention on God. At its best, Praise and Worship energized and united the congregation through a shared repertoire of song. Worship leaders might weave scripture and prayers throughout, giving it a relaxed, contemplative feel at times and an ecstatic, joyful quality at others.
My musical life in the church, and even my prayer life, was formed through these experiences of worship.
While Advent marks the beginning of the new liturgical year, I often experience it as a hinge, a transitional space that holds past and future in tension. It invites us to awareness and discernment, to notice where God is at work in our world and in our lives.
This year the tension has been especially strong. Violence and terror persist. The peace foretold by ancient prophets seems illusory in face of ongoing wars, economic instability, and political hubris. The justice that makes valleys low and rough places plain seems far off in face of oppressive, racist systems that scapegoat immigrants and devalue lives of color. And then add our personal challenges and pains, those of our families and friends. Sometimes it can be overwhelming.Read More
Worship is one of the primary places where we enact our relationship with God and others. And more than a form or formula for worship, liturgy is the holy, meaningful work that God’s people do when they gather. Worship isn’t thinking about or talking about God, but is speaking to and listening for Divine. Worship joins breath, voice and body in words and action, embodying deep wisdom about the Holy One and our selves. In worship we become the Body of Christ, a mysterious manifestation of Jesus’ spirit in time and space.
If we “live ourselves into new ways of thinking” as Fr. Richard Rohr asserts, then worship is one of the most formative and integrative things that we can do in Christian community. What we say and sing shapes us; we become what we create together.Read More