Archive for March 2013

Git-R-Done – HOLY WEEK CLIFF NOTES

March 26, 2013

Larry the cable guy The comedian known as Larry the cable guy, Daniel Lawrence Whitney, is well known for signature catch phrases including the grammatically irritating, “Git-R-dun.”  I was too cheap to buy the book which apparently contains a whole chapter on “Larry’s” origin of “Git-R-done,” which Jewish comedian Lewis Black in the introduction (I could read that for free on Amazon) says that Larry stole from him, but that Larry’s was probably more appealing than Black’s, which was “Could we try to get something accomplished here?….people…..anybody listening?”

Sadly, the “Git-R-done” mentality is indicative of many church goers in our times.  Speaking of time, that is one of the primary areas in which we see the Git-R-Done attitude displayed.  The attitude really boils down to a kind of two-year-old’s tantrum, “I want what I want when I want it!”  “Oh, and by the way, if it does not entertain me, then please….just ‘Git-R-done.”  The mindset induces a restlessness in the pews of worship services, where impatient attenders continue the “serve me!” disposition that has come to characterize nearly every aspect of our consumerist culture.  The prophetic message of the Gospel (Good News), and especially the Christian notion of serving others is in every sense counter-cultural to this attitude.

This is Holy Week.  Worship planners, especially those serving in evangelical church settings, struggle to compress into one or two services the nuances of all that is signified by this week’s events. There is a theological richness in all that occurred in the final week of Jesus’ humanity.  What does our deportment in relation to this time say about the sincerity of our faith, and its place in our lives?  Most of us have pulled away from a full “Holy Week,” where Palm Sunday yields to Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s period of personal contemplation and final Lent season self-examining, which then moves to the Great Triduum (pronounced TRID-oo-um), which is simply Latin for “three days.”  We have found ways to truncate what was once considered One Act of Worship – beginning Maundy Thursday and lasting through Easter.  Try suggesting that idea to your board of trustees, deacons, or elders.  Current practice, when separating into three distinct services, has many churches asking their people to  depart Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in silence with no benediction.  Roots for the practice likely has roots in the “One Act of Worship” ethos which remains from the centuries long practice of uninterrupted Triduum worship.  Nowadays, some churches gather on one of these days, usually Thursday or Friday, or else compress consideration of all the events into one day, often Palm Sunday.  It means that pastoral worship leadership must necessarily diminish emphasis of some aspects of these events.  On a more positive note, it could give rise to a spirituality that embraces the truth that the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord is one divine action.

And so, brothers and sisters, we have received a divine calling in days when people desire spiritual tweets over biblical study, caffeinated hymns and up tempo rhythms over artistic contemplation, much less self-offering.  Pastors and Worship Music Leaders who will lead their worshiping congregations in the way of the cross simply must call upon disciples to follow Jesus’ instruction to “take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23)  Denying self indicated as imperative in that same scripture seems clearly to call followers to stave off the Git-R-done spirit that so easily distracts us into thinking there surely must be a cliff notes version for Holy Week, worship, and following Jesus in general.

There is not.  But there is Jesus.  There is a cross. And there is an empty tomb!

 

 

 

 

TAKE PAUSE – READINGS FOR HOLY WEEK

March 20, 2013

man reading scripture  There is a busy-ness that comes with the season that leads up to Easter, especially for Worship Ministers and musicians of the church.  Extra rehearsals, enlistment of personnel, and additional service preparations can all crowd the corners of our minds, and gobble up every minute of our days.  If we are not careful we can crowd out the very spirituality we claim we are seeking to engender in others and cloud the message of Gospel truth in the process.  In order for us to be centered in lifting up Jesus, we surely must be with Him in and through the Word of God.

 

Perhaps our best preparation for worship service leadership in Holy Week is to drench ourselves in the scriptures, and in do doing to avail ourselves to the Holy Spirit that He might show us Christ in the Word.  Below are daily scripture readings for Holy Week from the Revised Common Lectionary:

Monday – Monday of Holy Week

Isaiah 42:1-9

                    Psalm 36:5-11

Hebrews 9:11-15

John 12:1-11

 

Annunciation of the Lord

Isaiah 7:10-14

Psalm 45

Psalm 40:5-10

Hebrews 10:4-10

Luke 1:26-38

 

Tuesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36

 

Wednesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 70

Hebrews 12:1-3

John 13:21-32

 

Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12:1-4, 5-10, 11-14

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-17,31b-35

 

Good Friday

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-25

John 18:1-19:42

 

Holy Saturday

Job 14:1-14 or Lamentations 3:1-9,19-24

Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16

1 Peter 4:1-8

Matthew 27:57-66 or John 19:38-42

Readings from Year C – Revised Common Lectionary: www.lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu

 

 

GOD IS GOD, WE ARE NOT

March 11, 2013

Leap of Faith How many times in ministry have we been faced with a difficult, if not impossible, situation, and been tempted to respond as if we have no limitations?  The need of the world around us is not that we would be able to solve the problems, know the answers, and be there for every situation.  Turns out we are created to be human.  That is what God intended.

“…for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19)

The historic spiritual practice of observing the season of Lent through PRAYER AND fasting has served Christians as a means of identifying with Jesus in His suffering, and to help reconnect with the pangs of our humanity.  While we know that our fasting, or giving up something, could never truly identify with the ultimate sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, such practice can aid believers in moving toward a proper frame of mind and spiritual sensitivity so as to experience Christian growth in this important season of the Christian year.

Regular readers of this blog will know I tend to be reluctant to reference my personal journey in these matters, but this year’s Lenten season has yielded spiritual reminders for me that may benefit discussions about worship such that I feel compelled to offer these observations from my own Lenten reflections of recent days.

#1 – What I gave up:  Initially, I determined to give up use of a certain artificial sweetener in my drinks – coffees and teas.  Because I had a habbit of using the specific sugar substitute, I knew I would be daily reminded of my sacrificing its use, and felt that the absence of that particular taste with my morning and afternoon coffees might remind me to pray, read scripture, and feel in touch with my humanity.

#2 – What developed had much less to do with giving up artificial sweetener, and much more to do with what I took up – namely, the reading of scripture passages and books that focused my thoughts and attitudes on my relationship with Jesus.

In my personal journey I moved from the absence of a taste in my mouth to being reminded by that absence of my own humanity, and its desires.  I was reading a book and related scriptures that plunged me to a simple reminder that I believe is at the center of the Lenten season focus.  It was simply this, I AM NOT GOD!

While the Bible reminds me that I have been created in the image of God (Gen 1:26), it also reminds me that His ways are not my ways (Is 55:8).  I am created with the possibility of being personal, willful, and loving, which are attributes of God, but I am also limited in power, knowledge, and where I am in time and space at any given mom.  God is unlimited in these attributes.

What do these likenesses and limitations have to do with worship?  My address is first toward the worship leadership in the church; namely the Worship Music Minister and the Pastor.  We dare not imply that we can fix it all (omnipotent), know it all (omniscient), or be anywhere and everywhere for all (omnipresent).  Acting as if we live without such limitations seems especially tempting for senior pastors.  Worship Music Leaders face similar temptations, however, as they are called upon to create environments in which people experience an emotional buzz that points them toward thoughts about God (as if this were the point of gathered worship).  Likewise, worship ministers are expected to miraculously “know it all,” especially when it comes to worship music application.  We may be tempted to pretend as if this is the case, when what we need is to “glory in our weakness,” admitting our limitations and trust in the Holy Spirit.

The bottom line is this, we are not God!  In worship leadership it is good to be humble, trusting the omnipotent God to provide for us, knowing full well that we cannot transform one life.  It is important for us to place our trust in the omniscient God to speak to the hearts and lives of people, since He knows them better than they even know themselves, and better than we can even pretend to know them or the depth of their needs.  As leaders we must accept the given limitations of our humanity, knowing we cannot be everywhere, but faithing the omnipresent God to be everywhere at all times.

We are human, God is God.  Thanks be to God on both accounts!

 

 


Rob Moll, Author

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