Last Lord’s Day (January 13) we sang a medley of hymns and praise choruses in the morning worship service of the First Reformed Church in South Holland. I preached from the Lectionary text for the day, following
Matthew 2:13-23, as I shared in a blog I wrote earlier this week.
Sometimes a familiar song or chorus strikes a new note in your heart that is deep and moving. I try to pay attention to what the Spirit is saying to me, and to the church, in worship. Some of my most moving and assuring moments have come, and still come, through the music used in worship. My emphasis, as a minister, is rightly on Word and Sacrament but congregational singing is so powerfully important.
It allows us to respond to God and Paul says we clearly respond to one another in singing too. Thus there are powerful ways that music encourages us and others around us. Music can and does have a great deal to do with what happens in worship.
Last week we sang the familiar chorus "Spirit Song." Somehow, and I have sung this song many times before, several lines struck me very profoundly. Here is the song text if you do not know it:
O let the Son of God enfold you
with His Spirit and His love
Let him fill your heart
and satisfy your soul
O let him have the things that hold you,
and His Spirit like a dove
Will descend up-on your life and make you whole.
Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs,
Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.
O come and sing this song of gladness
as your hearts all filled with joy.
Lift your hands in sweet surrender to His name
O give Him all your tears and sadness;
give Him all your years of pain,
And you’ll enter into life in Jesus’ name.
As I sang these words that I have italicized in bold type the Holy Spirit just reached deeply into my life in a moment of time. There was a deep and profound moment of healing. Anyone my age has years of pain inside them if they are really honest. There are also years of blessing that flood your mind when you count them. Life is simply that way and the Bible is most realistic about this fact.
But we idealize and then settle in and forget the plain truth all too easily. I needed to be reminded, and deeply touched again, that I might be healed in my inner being. I am acutely aware that my pain can be used for good and for harm. I can manipulate with it or edify with it. No matter how much I work at this my motives and actions are always mixed. But I want to use my "pain" to bless, not to promote. Self knowledge is never easy and moments like these help you, or so I think.
I also prayed the same for all those around me and for old First Reformed Church, believing that its future could be even brighter than its past.
If God gives this flock a real shepherd, preacher and visionary leader this could happen. If you know me would you please pray that this might happen and that in coming weeks, as I preach quite often for First Reformed between now and the summer, that God’s Spirit would visit us powerfully and refresh his people in South Holland?