Over the past months, I’ve been delighted to work with The Rev. Ashley Goff and the congregation of Arlington Presbyterian Church in Arlington, VA. Over several years, this remarkable faith community discerned they were called to respond to the needs of their neighbors through a thoughtful listening campaign. They made a bold decision to demolish their building and partner with a developer who would build affordable housing on the former site of the church.Read More
To receive forgiveness is to have a burden lifted from our shoulders; it is a gift of grace upon grace upon grace. Forgiveness frees us from the unrelenting demands of perfectionism and fear of failure; it nourishes hope and encourages us toward a whole and integrated life. When we are forgiven our offenses are in the past, forgotten by God. We're given a clean slate and invited to begin again.
But have these life-changing words found their way to the core of our being? Does our liturgy provide space to celebrate and savor the grace we have received? Do the words and tunes we sing in response to the Assurance of Pardon invite us to be present to moment and to share the joy with others?
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.
Last month, Not So Churchy, an emergent Presbyterian faith community where I share musical leadership, had its very first baptism. A trans woman in the community, who had begun her gender transition a few months prior, stepped into the baptismal waters and was marked as Christ's own. I had the privilege of being one of her sponsors, charged by the community to be a spiritual companion on the journey.Read More