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The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts

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Lent4_blog

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Week of: March 11, 2018
Scripture: Ephesians 2:1-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
(Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV)


Each week during the season of Lent 2018, the Reflections will explore the lectionary text through the lens of a representative hymn.

"Jesus, Lover of My Soul,"
United Methodist Hymnal 479. Text by Charles Wesley.


Devotion

Charles Wesley wrote "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" soon after his conversion. The lyrics hold rich imagery for us to explore. In the opening words, we pray to Jesus as the "lover of my soul" — proclaiming the depth of love that Jesus has for our very soul.

The hymn contains images of our being "covered." We are covered and protected in times of trial (Psalm 107:30). We are covered when we open ourselves fully to God and confess our sinfulness. We are covered in the embracing grace of Jesus Christ — enough to cover all our transgressions!

You will also find images of water in the text: a flood of trials, such as in Job 27:20 and Psalm 29:10, and healing water found in the image of the fountain of life.

In reflecting on these words and images, drink in the deeply personal nature of each stanza, the idea that you must uncover your deepest sin to God, even as God will provide cover, comfort, and boundless grace.

Consider ...

As a part of your closing devotions this week, consider inviting each of your ensembles, religious arts participants, and other worship team members to share what it means to have Jesus love them as deeply as is described in this hymn.

Prayer

Grace-giving Lord, thank you for life and for providing healing streams enough to cover all my sin. I ask for grace to take freely what you have offered. Amen.

Catherine NanceThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
St. John's United Methodist Church
Aiken, SC

 

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Strong Texts

Lent3_blog

Third Sunday in Lent

Week of: March 4, 2018
Scripture: John 2:13-22

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
(Romans 4:25, NIV)


Each week during the season of Lent 2018, the Reflections will explore the lectionary text through the lens of a representative hymn.

"Living for Jesus,"
The Faith We Sing 2149. Text by Thomas O. Chisholm. Music by C. Harold Lowden.


Devotion

As he prepared a publication of hymns in 1917, C. Harold Lowden decided that the tune he had composed needed a stronger text. He replaced the original title “Sunshine Song” with “Living for Jesus” and asked Thomas O. Chisholm to write a new text.

Chisholm was reluctant, saying that he had no idea how to write a text to pre-composed music. However, Lowden insisted that God had led him [Lowden] to select Chisholm to write this text.

It is fascinating that Lowden had already given the hymn its title.

In our work as worship architects or the worshiping church, let us pray that we may meet the challenge of choosing strong texts, just as Lowden sought from Chisholm. Let us ask for strength to “do each duty in his holy name.” Pray that everything you do be in Christ’s name — worthy of him.

Consider ...

Consider singing a different stanza of this hymn at the close of each of your ensembles, religious arts gatherings, and other worship team meetings during the rest of the Lenten season as a part of your closing prayers.

Prayer

O, Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to you, henceforth to live and work for you alone. Amen.

Catherine NanceThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
St. John's United Methodist Church
Aiken, SC

 

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Turn Our Eyes

Lent2_blog

Second Sunday in Lent

Week of: February 25, 2018
Scripture: Romans 4:13-25

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
(Romans 4:25, NIV)


Each week during the season of Lent 2018, the Reflections will explore the lectionary text through the lens of a representative hymn.

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,"
United Methodist Hymnal 349. Text by Helen Howarth Lemmel.


Devotion

The original title of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" was “Heavenly Vision” — a strong metaphor for us. So many visions in this world seem brighter than the heavenly vision of Jesus.

Our family's dog, Barnabas, is named after one of Paul's companions. Mostly, he is the epitome of his name, "Son of Encouragement," save one major fault. When we are out walking and he sees another person or dog, he lunges and barks. After many frustrating walks, we discovered that if we anticipate such an encounter by saying, “look at me, Barnabas — keep looking at me,” we distract him, avoiding the undesirable behavior.

As we walk through this life with its bright, earthly visions that do not glorify God, God says to us, “look at me!” Sing the chorus to yourself next time you are tempted, lonely, sad, or discouraged.

Absorb the words of the final stanza to “go to a world that is dying.” Ponder how you might first turn your eyes to the Savior, then look to the world with different eyes, seeing where you can make a difference!

Consider ...

Consider inviting each of your ensembles, religious arts participants, and other worship team members to sing this hymn at the beginning of their prayer time each morning this week, changing the word “your” to “my.”

Prayer

Lord, let us turn our eyes upon you, no matter the temptations and visions in this world that are not heavenly. Let us stand in the light of your glory and grace. Amen.

Catherine NanceThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
St. John's United Methodist Church
Aiken, SC

 

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A Wilderness Journey

Lent1_blog

First Sunday in Lent

Week of: February 18, 2018
Scripture: Mark 1:9-15

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan ...
(Mark 1:12, NIV)


Each week during the season of Lent 2018, the Reflections will explore the lectionary text through the lens of a representative hymn.

"Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days,"
United Methodist Hymnal 269. Text from Claudia F. Hernaman, Child's Book of Praise: A Manual of Devotion in Simple Verse (1873).


Devotion

The text of this hymn is fascinating considering its origin as a children’s devotion. The text does not say those forty days but rather these forty days, highlighting the continued relevance of Christ’s wilderness journey, retelling the story of the journey, and relating it to our own journey of faith.

Consider this prayer-structured text and its retelling of the events of Jesus’ wilderness journey. Does God need the story recounted? Certainly not! I believe God loves to hear us recount the narrative, lest we forget. In our church’s liturgy, we remember the story of creation and the continued story of God’s activity throughout the entire Bible. The first phrase of stanzas 1 through 3 of this hymn narrates Jesus’ trials. The second phrase of all of the stanzas contains a prayer to guide us as we follow Jesus’ path during Lent.

Do you presently feel "sent" into the wilderness? Take these forty days of Lent and ask God what lessons you need to learn.

Consider ...

Consider inviting each of your ensembles, religious arts participants, and other worship team members to read this hymn as part of their evening devotion and prayer time this week. Perhaps you could use this as part of your group or ensemble devotion time. Invite members to share the hymn phrases that resonate with their lives.

Prayer

Gracious and loving God, abide with me, that so, this life of suffering over past, an Easter of unending joy I may attain at last! Amen.

Catherine NanceThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
St. John's United Methodist Church
Aiken, SC

 

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Transformations

Epiphany_Transform_blog

Transfiguration of the Lord

Week of: February 11, 2018
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

We do not preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord .... God said that light should shine out of darkness. God is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:5-6, CEB)

Devotion

Four verses from Paul’s second letter to the Christians in Corinth are the Epistle reading in the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). The RCL's selection is somewhat ironic, however. For, like the disciples who misinterpreted what they were witnessing (Mark 9:2-9, the transfiguration of Jesus), the crowds witnessing the teaching and preaching of Paul and other apostles misunderstood what they were hearing. 

Transformations do occur. When experienced or witnessed they may seem phantasmic; transformations seem unreal, imagined, illusory. However, in the particular sphere of worship arts we may witness frequent transformations. God's light shines through the child singer who blossoms into a gifted youth or adult soloist, the shy or awkward youth who is transformed by a dance or a reading offered in worship, the adult whose scribble in the margins of their Bible becomes a worship visual design.

Paul reminds his hearers, contrary to their impression, that he is not preaching about himself; rather he is transformed by preaching about Jesus Christ. The transforming light of Christ shines forth through the darkness – i.e., the limited, but heart-sincere, abilities and offerings in worship. 

We should intentionally encourage and watch for such sacred in-breakings, such transformations in our midst.

Prayer

The hymn by 20th century British Methodist minister and hymn writer, Fred Pratt Green, provides words for praise and prayer:

Christ is the world’s Light, Christ and none other; 
born in our darkness, he became our brother. 
If we have seen him, we have seen the Father: Glory to God on high! *
 

* Words: Fred Pratt Green, © 1969 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Found in The United Methodist Hymnal (1989), No. 188.

Roger DowdyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Deacon, The United Methodist Church
CROSS-PATHS Ministries
Richmond, VA

 

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Questions

Epiphany_Remember_blog

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Week of: February 4, 2018
Scripture: Isaiah 40:21-31

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? Wasn’t it announced to you from the beginning? God inhabits the earth’s horizon ... stretches out the skies like a curtain and spreads it out like a tent for dwelling.
(Isaiah 40:21-22, CEB)

Devotion

This week's reading from the Hebrew scriptures focuses on Isaiah addressing Israel, and calling them to remember exactly who is creating, calling, guiding, and protecting them.

These words reach our 21st century hearts as poignantly as in the 6th century BCE, when they were written. Just as in the Babylonian exile, today's population seems to have forgotten or misunderstood the true nature of the Holy One: "God makes dignitaries useless and the earth’s judges into nothing. ... The LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 40:23 & 28).

In worship, the spoken words, the songs, the visual imagery and movement act as vital conduits giving life to Isaiah’s prophetic word-images. The three "question-and-answer" sequences call us, through varied arts in worship, to enter this scripture and explore the prophet’s questions and to respond. "Don’t you know? ... Who created these? ... Haven’t you heard? ... God inhabits the earth’s horizon ... summoning each by name ... those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength ...."

Prayer

Holy One, Maker, Creator, and Guide, we gather for worship to remember and to offer thanksgiving for all that you are. We offer our worship as the "work" of your people so that we grow in our understanding of you, believe more steadfastly, and share with gladness the reality of who you are. Amen. 

Nancy Hastings HornsbyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Deacon, The United Methodist Church
CROSS-PATHS Ministries
Richmond, VA

 

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Transformed

Epiphany_Heal_blog

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Week of: January 28, 2018
Scripture: Mark 1:21-28

And the unclean spirit ... came out of him.
(Mark 1:26, NRSV)

Devotion

By what do we measure our worship services? By style: traditional, modern, blended? By participation: "The congregation really sang those praise songs today!"? Perhaps by the feedback we receive: "Great sermon today! ... Never heard the choir sound better! ... The altar flowers were gorgeous! ..."?

In today's gospel lesson one might think it was the latter — measured by the feedback: "What is this? A new teaching — with authority!" (Mark 1:27b, NRSV). Wouldn't we all as preachers, worship leaders and designers love to be complimented on the new thing we did so convincingly!?  However, what was truly important that day in the synagogue was that one man came sick, wounded, and hurt — and Jesus healed him. He was transformed. 

In the midst of all our careful worship planning and preparation may we not lose sight of those who are broken, hurt, and in need of God's healing touch. May all we do and say in worship leave room for the new thing God is doing to transform our lives and the lives of everyone within our congregations. 

God's transforming power can heal and change each one of us — the true measure of Christian worship!

Prayer

I thank you God, for your transforming power to heal us. Amen.

Nancy Hastings HornsbyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pastor and Retreat Leader
North Alabama Conference of The UMC
Tuscaloosa, AL

 

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Following

Epiphany_Follow_blog

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Week of: January 21, 2018
Scripture: Mark 1:14-20

Follow me and I will make you fish for people.
(Mark 1:17, NRSV)

Devotion

We hear again the familiar story of Jesus calling the fishermen with the words, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people" (Mark 1:17, NRSV). The beginning of Jesus' public ministry included gathering together a close circle of friends; not a planning team or task force, but friends — ones who would follow him, hang out with him. He needed the kind of friends who would be in relationship with him.

I recall reading somewhere this impactful statement: Before we are called to do anything, we are first called into relationship — to fall in love with Jesus. "Follow me," we hear Jesus say to Simon and Andrew and to us. Follow me, love me, be my friend and then I’ll make you into one who preaches, teaches, sings, dances, directs, creates ...

I don't know what's on your "To Do" list today ... perhaps a worship team meeting, sermon writing, anthem selection, ensemble preparation, visual proclamation planning ... the many creative and mundane ways we are called to "fish for people." But before the doing begins, take a moment to remember that you were first called by name to follow, to love, to be a friend of Jesus. Taking the time to be with Jesus will make the doing far more fruitful and joy-filled!

Prayer

Jesus, dearest friend, help me to follow you, love you, and be your friend today. Amen.

Nancy Hastings HornsbyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pastor and Retreat Leader
North Alabama Conference of The UMC
Tuscaloosa, AL

 

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Senses

Epiphany_Come_blog

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Week of: January 14, 2018
Scripture: John 1:43-51

... Philip said to him, "Come and see."
(John 1:46b, NRSV)

Devotion

Philip has become a follower of Jesus and he shares this news with Nathanael. Don’t you just love Philip’s description? “Come on Nathanael, you know who I’m talking about, Jesus son of Joseph of Nazareth.” And Nathanael’s reply, “Who? From Nazareth? Impossible!” So Philip, searching for the right words, throws up his hands and says, “Oh, just come and see!”

Who of us has all the right words, names, phrases to describe a love so great, a power so amazing found in the person of Jesus? No one word or witness will do. Come and see. No one expression will do. Come and hear. Come and feel. Come with all your senses!

Perhaps Philip is the patron saint of worship artists. As worship leaders, our mission is to invite others to come and see. Come. Bring all your senses. Come and see, hear, feel, touch. Come. Bring your own witness to the love of God made manifest through Jesus Christ.

It is not our job to have all the answers and hand them to our congregation. No. In the spirit of our St. Philip, we invite all to come. We prepare the space and create the avenues for everyone to discover and know the love of Jesus. 

Prayer

Loving Jesus, may I not wait for Sunday to open all my senses to experience your love today. 

Nancy Hastings HornsbyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pastor and Retreat Leader
North Alabama Conference of The UMC
Tuscaloosa, AL

 

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Beloved

Epiphany_Beloved_blog

Baptism of the Lord

Week of: January 7, 2018
Scripture: Mark 1:4-11

You are my Son, The Beloved; with you I am well pleased.
(Mark 1:11b, NRSV)

Devotion

It is the first week of January, the first week of a new year. Time seems to move so fast! The church calendar also speeds along. Little time has passed since our adoration of Jesus in a manger surrounded by Mary and Joseph and shepherds.

Now, suddenly, Jesus is an adult stepping into the waters of the river Jordan to be baptized, the beginning of his public ministry. He has received a sign ["… the Spirit descending like a dove…"] and a word ["… a voice came from heaven, 'You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased'"] (Mark 1:10b-11, NRSV).

It is the beginning of a new year for us, the time to start anew in our own lives and worship arts ministry. What shall be our sign, our word to jumpstart our worship arts ministry this year? 

Water. Water shall be our sign. Water is at the font and in our daily drinking, cooking, washing …

Beloved. Beloved is the word we need as we embark on our daily tasks of ministry. We too are God’s beloved. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit. Remember: you are named and claimed as God’s own beloved child. You are not alone as you step into this new year. 

Prayer

Loving God, thank you for claiming me as your beloved child. Amen. 

Nancy Hastings HornsbyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pastor and Retreat Leader
North Alabama Conference of The UMC
Tuscaloosa, AL

 

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Praise and Fulfillment

Advent5_Light_blog

First Sunday After Christmas

Week of: December 31, 2017
Scripture: Luke 2:22-40

Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God.
(Luke 2:28, CEB)

Devotion

Last Sunday we sang the Song of Mary and later that day we celebrated with a “new song.” This Sunday we sing the Song of Simeon filled with praise and fulfillment.

This is usually a week when we music and worship artists can “put our feet up,” relax and spend much-needed time with the ones we love, and replenish our spirit-soul.

I encourage all of us, as worship designers and liturgy leaders, to use these days of Christmas as a time to reflect upon and to marinate in the arts offered in worship – giving praise and thanks for the fulfillment of God’s mighty work in the coming anew of Jesus the Christ.

Prayer

God of Promise, like Simeon, we praise you for the fulfillment of your promise through your Son, Jesus Christ. Our hope, through your Holy Spirit, is that the arts in worship may germinate into acts of grace, mercy, and peace. We offer up praises of thanksgiving to you, not only this Christmas season, but until the close of our li​ves​ on earth. Amen.

Amy YoungbloodThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
First United Methodist Church
Stuttgart, AR

 

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Glorious News

Advent4_Sing_blog

Fourth Sunday of Advent / Christmas Eve

Week of: December 24, 2017
Scripture: Luke 1:46b-55, Psalm 96

With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
(Luke 1:46b, CEB)

Sing to the Lord a new song!
(Psalm 96:1, CEB)

Devotion

Mary, the mother of the promised Savior, will sing her song, the Magnificat, this Advent Sunday morning. She is just beginning her long Advent journey of HOPE, LOVE, JOY and yes, PEACE. With the daunting task of giving birth to the hope of Israel, it is amazing how she sings gloriously with the confidence of peace.

On Sunday night, the Eve of Christmas, Psalm 96 gives us a “new song” to sing. Our Advent worship journey has been completed. We can now celebrate the coming of the One to whom we have offered our gifts of worship this season. How can we not sing a “new song”?

Prayer

Holy Christ Child, you have come to give us PEACE so that we might sing, dance, play, visualize, dramatize and preach a glorious new song. Grant us the confidence of Mary to always magnify your name. Amen.

Amy YoungbloodThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
First United Methodist Church
Stuttgart, AR

 

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Rejoice Always

Advent3_Joy_blog

Third Sunday of Advent

Week of: December 17, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The Lord ... has sent me to bring good news ...
(Isaiah 61:1, CEB)

Rejoice always. ... Give thanks in every situation ...
(1 Thessalonians 5:16 & 18, CEB)

Devotion

It seems every day this year we have been inundated with news that creates fear and injustice, spreads rumors of war, and/or reports a new natural disaster.

In the midst of oppression, brokenness, and the prisons of our own minds, it can be difficult to seek joy. Yet, in Isaiah 61, God has promised to bring comfort, hope, and justice to this world through the promised Messiah.

We, who are caretakers of God’s people through our various worship arts, have the power to inspire people to be the hands and feet of the promised Savior. Take time during this week and season to be thankful for the gifts God has given you which serve as a vehicle of transformation and JOY in this world.

Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus, to give us JOY! Amen.

Amy YoungbloodThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
First United Methodist Church
Stuttgart, AR

 

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Advent Wilderness

Advent2_Prepare_blog

Second Sunday of Advent

Week of: December 10, 2017
Scripture: Mark 1:1-8

A voice shouting in the wilderness: "Prepare the way for the Lord …"
(Mark 1:3, CEB)

Devotion

When you truly think about it, John the Baptist is an amusing and intriguing character! He is clothed in camel’s hair held together with a leather belt. He eats only locusts and honey AND he is in the wilderness loudly shouting what some would perceive as crazy stuff.

The significant thing about John is he knew his place in God’s magnificent plan to save the world, and he played the part well. John knew his message and proclaimed it in a place away from the hierarchy of wealth and privilege. Yet, as a human being, it must have been a lonely existence for him.

We may also succumb to the traps of loneliness as we proclaim the message through sacred arts. At times we can feel apart from the world that rushes on without us. But remember the Christ Child comes to those set apart for God’s creative work so that God might be revealed to others.

Prayer

In the Advent wilderness of our lives, come, Lord Jesus, and deliver us into your LOVE. Amen.

Amy YoungbloodThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
First United Methodist Church
Stuttgart, AR

 

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Watch Out! Stay Alert!

Advent1_Wait_blog

First Sunday of Advent

Week of: December 3, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-9

From ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any god but you who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 64:4, CEB)

Devotion

We live in a world where waiting is not popular. We can obtain any information or order anything we want and receive it the next day with just a click of a mouse or a touch on a screen. In his gospel, Mark tells us in 13:33 & 37 to “Watch out!” and “Stay alert!”

In our society, “watch out” and “stay alert” scream at us with an element of fear. Watch out for people who are different; “stay alert” and avoid unsafe areas. But Isaiah’s and Mark’s words were not meant to be of fear and competition, but a message of “Listen, God is about to do something grand!” Be on the lookout so you can participate in the joy!

We, as creators and leaders of worship, have the unique privilege and responsibility of leading God’s people away from the shouts of this wilderness world and into an Advent experience: an experience of “quiet waiting,” as we “watch out” and “stay alert” for the coming of the Christ Child.

Prayer

God of Advent, may we nurture your people and ourselves to wait with patience, be alert to your presence, and stay ready to spread the word of your coming to the entire world. Come, Lord Jesus, and give us HOPE. Amen.

Amy YoungbloodThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
First United Methodist Church
Stuttgart, AR

 

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When Did We See You?

Nov_See_Blog

Reign of Christ / Christ the King Sunday

Week of: November 26, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46

Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
(Matthew 25:37, NRSV)

Devotion

Ah, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats — there is so much to love about this passage! First, there is no mystery about what it looks like to be a "saved" people; the test and the answers are listed right here, plain for all to see! When you see someone in hunger, feed them! When you see someone in prison, don’t let them suffer in isolation; visit them, for God’s sake!

Secondly, the sheep don’t know they are sheep and the goats don’t know they are goats! Do you see it? We read this gospel lesson on Reign of Christ / Christ the King Sunday because it is Christ who is the head of God’s reign, Christ and not anyone else. And because Christ sits where he does, he sees the image of God in each person on earth.

Even though we can’t always see the image of God in others as quickly as Jesus does, we are still called to treat everyone as if they are Christ: it is not up to us to judge whether anyone is worthy of help, love, grace, justice, mercy and dignity! Our calling is to help those who need help. "Be Thou My Vision," indeed!

How are we, as worship artists, helping our people see that God is at work and already present in the lives of all people, not just the ones who come through the doors of our institutions? And, further, how do we serve as a bridge between the worship inside the walls of our institutions and our people’s worship outside of those walls?

Prayer

Jesus, on this Sunday when we celebrate the goodness, righteousness, and holy justice embodied in your reign, may the Spirit enable us to move beyond our preconceived ideas about our fellow humans and break open our hearts to their needs, so that we may alleviate suffering wherever we see it, just as Jesus did. Amen.

Joe StobaughThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Minister of Worship and Arts
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
Frisco, TX

 

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Grow!

Nov_Grow_Blog

Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of: November 19, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30

For to all those who have, more will be given ...
(Matthew 25:29a NRSV)

Devotion

“For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”

YIKES! That doesn’t feel good, does it? But, what if … just what if, God has already innately given everyone what they need to thrive, and given it to them in abundance? If we are truly made in God’s image, and called supremely good by God — what if we have all we need to thrive and grow in the world already? What if we have already been given the conditions in which growth is possible?

Could it be that God intends for us to take the talents we’ve been given, in whatever measure we have them, and develop them for the further realization of God’s dream for us and for creation? And, as worship artists, are we not called to create the space for others' talents to be used, grown and multiplied? We are the ones who are called to help others develop their talents, so when that day comes, God will say to us and to those whom God has entrusted to us, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

Prayer

God, you have given us so much, all that we need, and for that we are deeply grateful. Help us to be the people who carve out space for the growth of the talents of others. Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Minister of Worship and Arts
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
Frisco, TX

 

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Be Ready!

Nov_Lamp_Blog

Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

Week of: November 12, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 25:1-13

And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came ...
(Matthew 25:10a, NRSV)

Devotion

The gospel blues song, “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” often springs to mind when I encounter this parable. Attributed by many scholars to Texas bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, his original recording paints a vibrant picture of this scripture! Indeed, we must be ready, for Jesus comes to us in surprising and unexpected ways.

In the month of November it is easy to get so wrapped up in preparations for Advent that we can miss out on what God is doing in the world right now. Even though we are busy looking to the future, Jesus continues to work in the world through us in the present. The Spirit continues to guide us in our worship artistry and God’s dreams for the world continue to be realized! Therefore, we must not neglect attending to the means of grace in our lives, lest we be too busy, or so sleepy, that we miss a holy visitation.

May we remain awake to welcome the bridegroom as we feed those who hunger, give water to those who thirst, clothe those who are naked, and visit those who are imprisoned.

Prayer

Jesus, we know that you are always amongst us and that your reign breaks out in the most surprising and sometimes scandalous ways. Help us be awake to your presence! Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Minister of Worship and Arts
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
Frisco, TX

 

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Finding Meaning

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All Saints' Sunday

Week of: November 5, 2017
Scripture: Revelation 7:9-17

... I looked, and there was a great multitude, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages ...
(Revelation 7:9, NRSV)

Devotion

All Saints’ Sunday provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on death, the afterlife, those who have gone before us, and the tenuous relationship between this life and the next. As worship artists we have a unique role in this regard, as we create space that allows for a fuller exploration of these universal themes. It’s an exploration that includes words, but also holds a mystery that transcends them.

My family (perhaps yours as well) has been touched by death in profound ways this year, especially in the loss of a patriarch in our family, my father-in-law. His was a “bigger than life" personality, and it is only in his passing that I understand that phrase in a fuller way. In the days following his passing I didn’t want to make art, but I felt compelled to do so: not to give understanding, but to find expression — and meaning. I found meaning in his life and in his death through art, especially in worship, as old forms of worship came alive to me in new ways.

Often we have no idea who our art in worship touches; but make no mistake, it does touch people in deep and profound ways. Through our art we can transcend the differences that constrain us — differences of tribes, and nations, and peoples, and language. Don’t hold back from giving this great gift to those around you in worship on this important day!

Prayer

God of all life, you made every person and called them not just good but supremely good. Help us remember that there is nothing, not even death, that can separate us from your love. Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Minister of Worship and Arts
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
Frisco, TX

 

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God-Pleasing Worship

Oct_PleaseGod_Blo_20171024-185919_1

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: October 29, 2017
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

… but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the Gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.
(1 Thessalonians 2:4, NRSV)

Devotion

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

The children of Action Ministries’ after-school program shone with pride and joy as they sang their hearts out as part of our church’s Christmas pageant. These children, many of whom were new to worship, radiated with excitement to offer their very best to God.

Disclaimer: This was not the most technically proficient singing I have ever heard. It was, however, some of the most beautiful.

Deep beauty lies in giving the best we can with the fullness of our bodies and souls. There is, of course, value in creating worship that “pleases mortals” – the kind of grand worship that aims to achieve artistic and technical brilliance. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t strive for excellence in all we do!

However, there is also value in reflecting on more than the aesthetic value of our worship. 

Sometimes the most pressing question is, “How does our worship please God?”

May we strive in our planning and our worship to please God as we offer our best gifts. 

Prayer

God of joy, enliven us with a desire to offer praise that is pleasing to you. Help us to bring our very best to the glory of your name. Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Minister of Music and Worship Arts
Grace United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA

 

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