Week of: July 16, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 55:10-13
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."
(Isaiah 55:12, NRSV)
In his short but seminal book Beyond the Worship Wars, Tom Long writes about the "movement to a joyous festival celebration" at the close of worship, and names this as a characteristic of vital and faithful worship. I wholeheartedly agree! We tend to the sacred flame of worship and help stoke the liturgical embers into meaningful joy-filled praise.
Towards the close of the service, the congregation is sent “out in joy” by words, actions and songs that quicken the tempo and build up the celebration. Whether through a sacrament, a ritual of holding hands for a sending prayer, a heartfelt benediction, or a spirited postlude, we are lifted up (literally out of our seats) and sent to go and serve the world.
This is one of the sacred duties of a worship artist: giving permission for people to have fun and experience delight in church. Thankfully the liturgy is capacious enough to hold both solemnity and playfulness in its arms.
Both are essential experiences of the Divine.
God of wonder and delight, may the joy I share with the gathered church be an authentic expression of the joy inside of me. Amen.
Photo: The worship team leads in a joyful celebration at General Conference 2016 in Portland, OR. (UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey)
Minister of Music