After a week stuck in bed, unable to eat, and missing the best week in our church year (Kids Camp), it was a joy to at least be able to worship together with my church family. I owe my good friend and fellow worship leader, Anthony Giannell, a huge thanks for leading in my place this weekend and just killing it.
The songs we sang this week were:
- God is Alive by Fee
- Only King Forever by Elevation Worship
- Unstoppable God by Elevation Worship (NEW!!)
- Cornerstone by Hillsong
- Jesus Messiah by Chris Tomlin
Check out this playlist and if you feel so disposed please purchase these tunes from the artists:
So, I’ve crafted this lovely personal mythology about myself where I know nothing about sports. I make jokes where I ask if touch downs are from lacrosse, or if a homerun is what somebody scores in soccor, or you get it… I’m the only one who thinks it’s funny. Well me and the guys so full of Gatorade that they think piano playing, poetry writing sissies like me don’t know anything about sports. But the truth is I used to play Sport.
I started on the offensive line for my freshman football team. It is there that the myth began. The team I started on was crazy good. We scored a grand total of 330+ points that season and only had 30 something scored against us. Most games ended 60 to 0, in favor of the Freshmen Hampshire Whip-Purs.
(No joke my school mascot was the Whip-Pur. And this it. A giant purple cat. In the building where I went to middle school and high school there was a bipedal purple panther with a whip and chaps. Go team!)
Our strategy for winning everything like it was our job was this: no big plays. The strategy was to march down the field. Every four plays if you’ve taken at least ten yards you get to start over with play number one. So our coach said, if you get three yards every play you’ll eventually score and the other team will not get many chances to have the ball. And of course the defense’s job when the other team (probably the rotten Genoa “Gogs” or Burlingtong “I Forgets” – because the midwest has awful mascots) was to keep pushing in the same direction so that they would loose yards. It was common to hear the announcer yell: “Taken down by a WAALLLLLLLL OF WHIP-PURRRRRRRRRRSSSS!”
We had an excellent QB, Jacob Goebbert, who could launch that ball like a rocket. And our running back, Eric Finn, was a tank. But, the coach was reticent to let them go for big plays, despite the whole team begging them because once the ball is in the air it belongs to whoever catches it. As fun and exciting as that it is games don’t get won 60+ to nothing that way.
March down the field was the name of the game. It was good strategy and it won games but man was it boring to watch.
What does this have to do with yesterday’s worship?
Well not much and everything. It has more to do with my frame of mind as a worship pastor than it does with yesterday’s actual experience which I thought was far from boring. Anthony and the team killed it. I can think of moments where each musician really shined and together they rocked. And the sermon was top-notch, Alyssa and I were greatly encouraged in our marriage. So, yesterday’s service is not neccessarily what I’m talking about. Though it falls into my thinking.
When I was interviewing for New Song, and every other worship leading position I’ve ever had, I was asked this question: “When was a time you led people to the Throne Room?” For reference, I think they’re talking about Isaiah 6 when in a fit of worship the prophet is swept up to the throne room, or Revelation where the revelator is taken to the throne room on the “Lord’s Day.”
When have I taken someone to the throne room? Never. Not my job. Can’t do it. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But, I think the question reveals common expectations for gathered worship: emotional and ecstatic like a Big 80 Yard Play.
If I’m honest, when church doesn’t feel like the road to Damascus and God doesn’t knock me off my horse with a blinding light and say, “Tommy! You have a special destiny, a purpose driven blah blah blah!” then it feels like a waste of time. Or at least that’s what my gut feels but that’s not actually what I think.
During the sermon Ryan keyed in to a truth about marriage that I think is true of our whole lives, and especially of our worship. He said something along the lines of: “What if Heaven, not marriage, is where I find eternal joy? What if marriage is a class? A practicum?”
Sub out marriage for life.
Pastor Eugene Peterson wrote a book called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, and if that gem of a title weren’t enough he says this:
There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.
What if life and every simple Sunday is a practicum for Heaven? What if the ordinary act of showing up to sing some songs regardless of how they make us feel, to greet our friends, receive communion and baptism, and hear from the Word regardless if there are seven, easy to follow applications were enough? What if each Sunday was a march down the field to Heaven?
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16
That’s my little brother, The Chosen One, not me being a super star. After my freshman year of football I quit playing and started calling sports “Sport” and mixing up what happens in each. I quit because towards the end of the season our coach pulled us together after another spectacular win and said, “Boys! These are the best days of your life!” And I thought to myself, “Oh Cuss! I can’t peak at 14!” So I quit.
I still have a couple of decades before I’ll peak.