Tag Archives: worship

Now Is The Time

This weekend is special. I hope it pushes, stretches me. I pray that it’s hard, that it’s rich, that it’s full to overflowing. I know it’s going to be just a little weird.

At 5:30, I’ll be picking up three kids from the youth group* and driving them to the small city down the road to attend a youth convention with approximately 800 kids. I used to go to this convention as teenager myself. I loved it, looked forward to it every year knowing that I would come home re-energized (if sleep deprived) and quieted, spiritually.

These times were my favourite:

In a crowd of people all raising their hands to worship, I found the comfort to open up my heart to a mysterious God. I learned to move with His presence and breath the praise pouring out all around me.

Of course, it never lasts. A week, maybe two weeks, and the mundane takes over and pulls you down from the spiritual high. Is the weekend of emotions and hard thinking worth it? It’s a controversial question, but for me, I think I know the answer. It is there I learned the motions, there I learned the feeling of the depth of my soul in communion. You don’t forget that feeling. Over time, I have had to learn a different style of worship, a style of worship that will access that depth without the flashing lights, without the raised hands, without the empathy pouring out of the crowd around me. I fully believe that that learning was made possible by the initial experience. Absolutely, those weekends were worth it.

But this weekend is going to be different. I’m not going as a high school student. I’m going as an adult. I’m not going as a conventioneer. I’m going as a leader. I’m not going with the primary goal of being moved, but with the primary goal of being a part of that moving. It’s going to be different. I fully expect I may struggle to embrace that new role, struggle to find a balance between personal communion and mentoring. I pray that I will be able to make a difference to just one young person, that I will be able to help to plaster this weekend into just one mind so that it will be a weekend they never forget in the same way that I have never forgotten them myself.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.

Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.

Psalm 96 : 8-9

* I never announced it, because life was really busy when the announcement was made from the pulpit, but, here’s a new bit of news! As of May 1st, I took over as the part-time youth leader to a great group of kids at the church we have been attending. This role is new and exciting and important and huge and just a little overwhelming. If you’re a praying type, please keep me and all these kids in your prayers as we transition and as we find an identity for this small group of kids.

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Sunday Worship with White Bean Soup

On Sunday, I sang in a new church for the first time. My piano teacher is the worship leader of the church we have been attending, so I kind of expected that I would be coerced on stage. And really, it does not take a lot of coercion: I am beyond willing. I love to sing and I love to help other people sing. After the service, I was approached by a number of people thanking me for leading, people curious about me and us, this couple that they’ve seen only a few times and this girl who seems completely willing to step in front of a crowd of strangers. One older man in particular stuck out in my mind.

“I used to really dislike it, you know. People singing at the front with a microphone. But then HJ, the worship leader, helped me understand: you’re a cantor, from the old tradition.”

This brief conversation got me thinking a bit about music and how it is used — and misused — in churches.  There is a fine balance in that role of worship leading though: a worship leader must be a strong singer or risk hindering rather than helping a congregation. But, at the same time, leading the congregation and even singing for the congregation during an offering or as a time for special music is not about performance. Doesn’t sound too complicated, right? Lead, but don’t perform. So why does it seem to me like so many churches miss the mark? In an effort to be contemporary, cutting-edge, to try to draw young people into the church, it seems the focus can very easily be lost. Lightshows, unpredictable music, and unexpected key changes take over. The band moves from leading to galloping ahead, without a care as to where the congregation is. New, cutting-edge song after new song leads to frustration, especially when these songs are not well-suited to congregational singing.

Ultimately, as a worship leader, I believe you need to listen to your congregation and you need to know who they are: if your purpose is to help them worship and help them connect to God, you will be successful, as long as you’re open to picking up the hymn book every so often to do it.

I felt whipped after the church service, whipped yet energized and excited at the same time. It’s a weird combination. It made it difficult to get my butt out of the chair and into the kitchen once we got home. But there’s something about Sunday soup that is so comforting that it’s impossible to pass up. And, we had just done a huge trip to the grocery store on Saturday, so we have plenty of fresh veggies in the fridge. And yet, I was feeling a touch uninspired. Surprisingly, in the end, this was pretty tasty, despite the little effort I managed to put into it.

White Bean Soup

A couple scoops of butter
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion
A couple heaping tbsp of flour

Cook the onion in the butter until the onion is translucent. Add the flour and stir together. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, cooking constantly.

(This technique is called a roux. It’s a wonderful technique and one of the best things I learned in 2010.)

4 cups water
1 package Knorr Vegetable broth
1 tbsp chicken bouillon
A dusting of basil, oregano, Montreal chicken spice and whatever other spices you wish to add
1 carrot chopped
1 potato chopped
1/2 to 1 cup rinsed white beans. You can also use canned. Canned would, in fact, produce quicker, if not better, results. Just make sure you rinse the beans first, no matter what kind you use.

Mix the water into the cooked roux and add all of the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil to cook the beans. Reduce the heat and simmer for a couple hours, stirring occasionally. Taste the beans. If you deem them soft enough and the rest of the soup hot enough, go ahead and eat!

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