Christ the Lamb stained glass For more than a year I have wanted to attend a Sunday morning worship service at Covenant Church in Cookeville, Tennessee.  This church plant was envisioned by its pastor and his family and birthed more than a year ago.  One of the reasons I have so wanted to worship with the young congregation is my longtime relationship with Pastor, Dr. Jonathan Nelms and his precious family.  What’s more, though, I wanted to worship under Jonathan’s leadership due to my absolute confidence in the level of integrity in the worship environment where I knew God’s Word would be honored and trusted to speak for itself.  I was certainly not disappointed.

Dr. Nelms’ message so effectively captured the essence of the Advent season that I want to share my impressions from the morning’s worship service, and more specifically, to convey what I believe is our calling in our day and age to deliver a prophetic word to our congregations and our communities through the songs we sing, the sermons we preach, and the prayer we help them to pray in our present context.  Jonathan helped worshipers understand that we live in the tension between the “Yet,” that which we testify to, which has already occurred, and the “Not yet,” that which the Bible promises is still to come.  The words from our worship study are anamnesis, that which we remember, and prolepsis, that toward which we look, holding to the hope of God’s promise.  Simple, yet incredibly powerful, and hugely important for all of us who plan and direct gathered worship.

More than once in my life I have been reminded that tension is an indication of life.  Somewhere between anamnesis and prolepsis is really where we live, as we engage the present in light of these two realities.  Living in that tension certainly does not make life carefree.  It does, however, offer tremendous sense of purpose and spiritual connection to the One Who has given the past, and holds the future, and is the very reason in it all; past, present, and future.  It is important for me to live beyond my work; my job. my career.  While I may recall the past vividly, the truth is that it is history – gone.  I cannot live in the past.  While I may resound with hope for the future, the future is yet to be realized, and thus is engaged only through faith.  I cannot live in the future.  So, what of the now?  Jonathan did a wonderful job of communicating in his message Sunday.  Through effective illustrations he reminded us of systemic changes of our day that effects how we communicate; how we project ourselves to many places, so to speak.  Technological advances are challenging us with a new way to live.  Rather than just being swept into the melieu without thinking, our Christian faith and indwelling Holy Spirit can help us in walking the narrow way.

Through the Advent season reflection based on the Gospel reading in Luke 21:25-36, we were reminded at Covenant Church Sunday of our freedom in Christ to live a way that is different.  In the fourfold pattern of worship that Jonathan has so faithfully taught and modeled as worship pastor in his previous church setting, and now as teaching pastor in his new church, we moved from Word to Table Sunday.  Taking the bread and the cup with this new fellowship was a deeply meaningful way of recommitting my own self to trust the Lord Who narrates the world, past, present, and future.  My spirit is resonant reflecting on the sounds of this new congregation lifting the Triumphant strains of the Revelation Song, proclaiming Him, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!  Who was, and is, and is to come!”

Amen! and Amen!

Explore posts in the same categories: Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts

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