Coen Christmas Pic  This past week I had another birthday.  Turns out I am piling up a bunch of them, as I was so aptly reminded by some of the cards and well-wishes from “friends.  As part of my celebration we went to church with one of our children’s families and I sat next to my oldest grandson in worship.  He is at an age where more faith questions abound, and needless to say, I love that.  Being with grandchildren gives special opportunities to observe childhood development close-up – including faith development.  Thanks to parents, behavior in church has moved from constant wiggling to learning to sit still and observe.  Drawing on bulletins has gone from scribble to drawing, from shapes to actual writing of words.  It is happening right before my eyes.  It causes me to reflect on the lives of my children and my own as well.

As birthday wishes began to trickle in on my Facebook Timeline.  I was not only overwhelmed by volume, but much more overwhelmed by the realization of how rich have been all the relationships over the years and phases of life.  I have reflected on God’s incredible gift of people all along the way in my life who have loved, supported, and patiently encouraged me.

The life reflections in this Advent season of the year coupled with recent discussions with friends have brought me to some inconclusive conclusions.  That is, the realization that life and ministry happen in times of deeply purposeful/intentional efforts, but that life and ministry also take place in times that, on review, would appear to have been simply going through motions, so to speak.  I think I am trying to say there have been periods of unintentional consequences of ministry as well as intended.  Over-emphasis to the contrary seems to so easily lapse into making effective ministry up to me.  My efforts and intention lack omnipotence.  Do not go too far with that.  Intentions do matter, but then again, the phrase is not “the road to heaven is paved with good intentions,” either.   My point is more focused toward the realization that the tension between my will and God’s will is no less for those of us in ministry than for those we serve in and through our ministries.  In fact, precisely because of the availability to us of special words and biblical knowledge that we think gives us forensic advantage over those we serve, enough for us to use it to prove our points when there is contention, we live in danger of missing the very numinous blessing for which we hunger.  Those of us in worship music ministry are additionally armed with emotive weaponry.  The arsenal available for our own destruction is far too full.

Now what does all this have to do with the aforementioned timeline and birthday blessings, much less Advent season?  Well, having heard from and thought about people from all seasons of life and contemplated those relationships has brought me once again to Eucharistic (thankful) truth.  Life is a gift.  In my days there have been those who were part of my childhood; family, friends, church leaders and school teachers, who spoke into my life journey in ways that may have seemed mundane at the time, but have served love, growth, joy, courage, lament and laughter.  There were school buds with whom I pondered the depths of the universe, and then went fishing.  There have been those with whom I have served as fellow ministers in good times and hard.  There have been people who have asked me to minister to them, and who have ministered to my family and me through acceptance and love.  To be taught to sing and play music in order to share and teach music that helps us all to worship and praise the God we serve is beyond words to acclaim.  To stand before choirs, instrumentalists, and congregations of worshiping singers for the purpose of making music together that seeks to declare Gospel Truth, and join creation’s song of eternal praise is indescribable.

As I reflect, it seems to me that there have been spiritually hot seasons and spiritually cold seasons for me.  There have been times I thought the Spirit was nowhere to be found, and other times I believed His presence was tangible.  Perhaps you have sensed these kinds of extremes as well, personally and in community experience.  Where is the constant?  What is the ongoing truth unchanged?  Too often our inclination is to consider the human dynamics of settings and consider a powerful speaker, clever writer, talented musician, dramatic song as the key to spiritual potency.  There is certainly nothing wrong with any of these components.  As we work toward being at our best at whatever we are gifted to do, however, the reality is that in spiritual enterprise God remains Sovereign.  He gives the increase.  The wind blows where it will, so it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Our opportunity and responsibility is to be humble, obedient, and faithful, to trust and obey.  Marking time is not a bad thing, especially if we help mark whose it is.  Advent proclaims His coming and awaits His coming.  Worship rehearses the story that we might rehearse our head and heart posture in response to the Eternal God, Who has given us these lives to live.  Thanks be to God!

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

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