posted on March 21, 2009 02:29
As I pondered Scotty’s outline this week in preparing music for the message and the rest of the worship service I couldn’t help realizing the stark differences between what he will be bringing to us regarding the person and work of the Holy Spirit and some of my past understandings. I think many of us have misunderstood the person of the Holy Spirit in our Christian experience somewhere along the way. Either he is ignored and not talked about because it only brings up controversial things that have divided churches and believers over the ages, or he is made into this reckless, hyperactive, unpredictable, ADD entity that you don’t want to be anywhere near where he may show up next.
I’ve been in services traveling the country as a hired gun musician where the pastor becomes The Amazing Kreskin in the name of the Holy Spirit. The service all of a sudden turns into the Psychic Hotline with people telling “unknown” things about someone or “revealing” what the Holy Spirit has supposedly shown them. Usually it involves someone here who has a bad back or someone here who has recently had some family struggles or someone here who recently lost a job. Okay, I know I’m teetering on the cynical but I’m going somewhere with this so work with me.
What I believe is that, whatever the work of the Holy Spirit is (and Scotty will unpack that really well for us this weekend), it will involve gentleness and compassion and patience and comfort and peace. There will be a drawing closer when we recognize the work of the Spirit. There will not be room for fear, shame, guilt, or humiliation. Those are tricks of another spirit but not the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that the person of the Holy Spirit is so completely secure with himself that he can simply apply truth without tactics. Peace without penance. Joy without judgement.
I also find it so interesting that words like wind, breath, blowing, and freedom are associated with the presence of the Spirit. The free flowing comforter whispering truth into places that have grown deaf to the shouting of everything else. The gentle voice reminding us of what we forget. I don’t see the Spirit of the scriptures as a force of havoc but of peace.
In my own life as an artist I believe I’ve experienced the Holy Spirit many times in the creative process. I’m not saying that he channels songs through me or that everything I come up with is directly from the hands of God. I am saying that the inspiration to create and re-create is a God given force that I believe comes from the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an artist, writer, dancer, communicator, etc. There are musical moments I’ve experienced alone as well as with other players and singers where the warm hug of the Spirit has been unmistakable. On the other hand, there have been times where I’ve performed for an audience and felt as dry as a cracker spiritually speaking and yet, people were moved in ways I couldn’t explain. That too, is the work and glory of the Spirit.
For me, freedom as a communicator lies in the fact that I don’t have to create his job, do his job, or try to second guess him. I simply surrender to his purpose and will and ask his blessing on what he’s given me to be about. He knows his plans and purposes much better than I do and I have to trust that his work isn’t limited to what I see happening in the moment. It may be that words and experiences from a worship service or song are carried around in someone’s heart for some time before the truth of something finally explodes at the Spirit’s prompting. I may be just one link in the chain that the Spirit will use for his purposes to reveal truth in a life in his own time. The beautiful thing is that he works ahead of us, around us, and in spite of us.
Our gathering song is a Meredith Andrews tune entitled, You’re Not Alone. This song speaks to the comfort that God himself speaks to our hearts through his Spirit. Imagine the Comforter telling you that you are not alone and you never have been. That something greater than yourself has been with you all of your life and has reached out and grabbed you out of your darkness and saved you from yourself.
As we move into the “worshipping God with singing” portion of our service we begin with the traditional hymn, Come Thou Almighty King. This is a great hymn of invocation which declares that we want to worship God and be in his presence. It is a very “trinitarian” hymn in that each verse mentions a person of the Three In One. The congregational music this weekend will be very “trinitarian” in nature because the points in our message point out that the role of the Holy Spirit is complimentary to the person of Jesus and the God-head. The three work in unison with one another and not independently from one another.
We will segue into the gospel hymn, Revive Us Again. This is another hymn that mentions praise for each part of the trinity and cries out for God’s Spirit to move in our hearts and make us new. From there we’ll move into the Chris Tomlin song, How Great Is Our God. This modern worship tune also makes mention of the God in three persons as it draws us to proclaim the greatness of our God.
For the offertory we have chosen a tune written by songwriter Billy Foote (some of you will know his name from the song Sing To The King which we do regularly). This song is called All Praise To God and makes much of Jesus and the gospel of his salvation for us. This will be followed by another Andrew Peterson tune entitled, Have Your Way. This is from his Resurrection Letters Vol. 2 project. I’ll probably be drawing from this project again between now and Easter. This particular song is a prayer that sounds like an old Irish hymn. It is a song that prays to have a life surrendered to God’s purpose and the Spirit’s leading.
The response song will be one that the congregation will join us in and one that we sing well together. Our God Saves sends us out into the world as worshippers who are compelled to serve and use our gifts with a heart of gratitude.
Hopefully, we will go into the world and the culture knowing that we are not alone and that there is one that will prompt us, teach us, give us peace, comfort, joy, and empower us to create and respond to the world around us as he reveals the gospel through us.