September 28, 1018

 
 

SWACDA Music in Worship
September 26, 2018
Bryan Taylor, Music In Worship Chair

How do I become lost in wonder, love, and praise?

SWACDA Music in Worship
September 26, 2018
Bryan Taylor, Music In Worship Chair

Our SWACDA Music in Worship conference, held in March 2018, was held in Oklahoma City and I themed our Immersion Day “Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise” from the great Charles Wesley hymn, Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling. The theme from the hymn, talks about being lost in wonder from the perspective of being in heaven with God and seeing Him in all His glory…finally being all we can be for Him through his gift of grace.  The theme for the conference centered on giving our all in our church music offerings wherever we have been called to give or be employed.  I asked Dr. Terry York to speak on this theme, both during the day and in the worship service that night.  Terry is the Professor of Christian Ministry and Church Music at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. Enjoy his insights on this theme.

Read Acts 3: 1-10
Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise
It was routine. It was 3:00 in the afternoon again. Folks gathered at the temple, again. There was some mixing and mingling at the front door, again. The routine people went to their routine places, again. The lame beggar was carried to church by his friend, again. And the beggar was placed at his usual place, again.

Routine: predictable, same ol’ same ol’, here we go again routine. You know the feeling: every Wednesday night, every Sunday morning. It’s not drudgery (usually), and it’s good to see everyone again, but it is again, and again. The beauty of the day can get mind-numbingly lost in the routine. The gate where everyone entered at the temple was called “Beautiful,” but few noticed, again. Three o’clock, gather for prayer, people in their places, again. But on this day, routine is transformed, and something beautiful happens at the gate.

Peter and John show up, again, and they see the lame man being carried to his place by his friend, again. But as it happens on this day, these four guys show up at the very same place at the same time. They bump into each other. It’s a bit awkward, but all is well. Peter and John say to friend of the lame man, “Go ahead, please.” “No,” says the man with is routine burden, “You go first.” “No,” you go ahead, you’re carrying that man. We can wait.”  So, he does, he goes in and lays his friend down in his usual, a bit in the way, place at the entrance. As he’s being lowered to his mat, the lame man begins his mantra, “Alms, have you any money to spare?” His chant was as routine as the prayers that were about to be said inside. Another day at the temple.

  But then, something happened. Although it fit into the routine, it wasn’t planned. Instead of his routine smile as he passed by, Peter was moved to stop, and to look the lame man square in the eye. The Christ-follower and the marginalized person looked at each other, and the routine scene began to shimmer a bit. It had a bit of liminal poetry in it.  “Don’t have any money,” said Peter, “but we’ll share what we have.” “Here, take my hand.” And with that, the routine passing by that had transformed into eye-contact, now transformed further into touch, and something like expectation began to stir. “Take my hand and in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”

My Lord, what a morning, I mean afternoon. The man stood, wobbled just a bit, and then stood tall and sure. And then he took a baby step, and then hesitantly, again, and again. “Again” had been redeemed! He was walking, and then jumping and then…and then…he walked into the temple. He had always wondered what it was like in there. And the folks sitting in their same ol’ places saw and heard something out of the ordinary, just like the folks out at the Beautiful Gate had seen and heard something full of wonder.

In the middle of this routine, Peter and John experienced the power of Jesus in their words and their hands. The lame man experienced the power of Jesus in his feet and legs. And his friend who had carried his friend in felt the power of Jesus lift a burden from his shoulders. Oh, the wonder of it all. Lives were changed. Identities were changed in about oh, five minutes? I don’t know; about the time it takes to sing an anthem. Peter and John were now known as healers. “He who sits outside in scorn” saw his name change to “He who dances in church!”

But wait! There’s more! The congregation, who, just a little while ago were wandering around mindlessly, lost in sameness, routine, and rut, are now wandering around with their eyes, mouths and minds wide open, “filled with wonder and amazement” according to the NRSV. They were lost in wonder, love and praise according to Charles Wesley, and they were trying to figure out what exactly had taken place in those few minutes.

I’m not so naïve as to think that from that day on, every 3:00 prayer service was a healing revival. But I will venture this guess: I bet that congregation showed up every time after that with the expectation that it could happen again. And further, I bet it did happen again, and again, every-once-in a while after that day.  Routine was transformed to expectation with pay-off every third day or so; maybe every 7th day or so.

Well, that’s about it. Oh, there is one more thing. You choir, and you choir directors, you routinely sing this scene into your congregation’s worship. It is routine. It was 7:00 in the evening on Wednesday, again. It was 11:00 in the morning on Sunday, again. Folks gathered at the church, again. There was some mixing and mingling at the door again.

Be assured of this: routine is transformed every Sunday for someone out there in the congregation, every Sunday. Be assured that expectation is resurrected for someone out there, every Sunday. Your part? Be in your usual place, again.

 Scripture says that the man who was healed walked into the temple. He hadn’t been in there before. He was lost in there. But, can you imagine?  His eyes must have been popping. His jaw must have dropped. He was lost in there but he was lost in wonder, love and praise.

Oh, there is another “one more thing.” Can you imagine the marginalized of our society being healed by the touch of Christ in and through your outstretched hand? Imagine, then, that person walking into your church for the first time, no longer lost in marginalization, or fear, or prejudice. Imagine the outcast now walking around in your temple, lost, but gloriously lost in… (well, you know).
Amen.                                                                                                                                     

Dr. Terry W. York
Sermon, March 7, 2018
SWACDA Music In Worship Immersion Day Worship Service
Bishop Angie Smith Chapel, Oklahoma University
Oklahoma City, OK

You may contact Bryan Taylor HERE