This is the Song that Doesn’t End…

3 11 2009

Jordan and I attended a mini-lecture tonight at Emory University given by Ed Phillips, associate professor of worship and liturgical theology at Candler School of Theology.  He focused on a familiar passage from the United Methodist Communion Prayer:

“And so, with  your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymnHolyholyholy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory…”

This “unending hymn” is described in the book of Isaiah and then again in the Revelation of John.  Apparently all the company of heaven is continuously singing of the holiness of the Lord God.  And when we sing that familiar hymn, we  are literally singing along with them.  This liturgy in particular, and corporate worship in general, connects us with something deep and wonderful: with our brothers and sisters from all Christian denominations around the globe; with the history of the church and the most ancient written liturgies; with the original writers of the Bible, through their visions; with the saints and angels in heaven; and with God Himself.

Dr. Phillips’ talk really brought us into a new understanding of corporate worship; not as something we create, or do; but as something that we join.  We add our voices into the history and tradition of the church universal, lifting our songs to heaven.  In that sense, worship can never truly be an individual thing.

For us as musicians, this is an important and humbling concept: one that reaches into the heart and true purpose of worship.  We talk a lot about how church services should not be a performance, but in striving for excellence in artistry and musicianship, it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between worship and performance.  But this idea of “joining in the unending hymn” means that you have to acknowledge that the church is bigger than your church walls, and that your particular service is only one small piece of the bigger song, which will continue forever, with or without you.  Then you start to realize that this God thing is bigger than you could ever imagine and you definitely want to be a part of it, giving your all to the God of power and might, who was and is and is to come.


22 07 2009

Without  a 9-5 desk job to occupy my days, I’ve had plenty of time lately to think and brainstorm and vision for the future.  Here are some highlights:

1. Yesterday … I had lunch with the pastor of a local Methodist church about the call of God, with the end result that I am reconsidering my own path and will be embarking upon a more formal discernment process.  And depending on how that goes, I may be applying to Candler School of Theology this fall (incidentally, they have a really unique “Theology in the Arts” concentration for MDiv students)

2.  Last night … I had a great conversation with my mom about the new arts ministry that is in the works at Noel UMC in Shreveport, LA.  It sounds like a great time to be in the church, and I only wish I could be there as it starts up!  As we looked for ideas together, we found several neat ministries in action across the country.  (I’m slowly adding these to my “links” pages; leave a comment if you have any other cool websites to share!)

3. This morning … I began preparing for my new violin students: compiling ideas for games, exercises, lesson plans,  techniques.  And I headed back to the basics, perusing my old Suzuki Book 1 for insights written onto the page long ago by my own violin teacher.  Jordan must have thought I was crazy, though: when he woke up, I was in the living room, demonstrating the old “rest, zip, step” routine!