This weekend was exciting! David preached about Christ's return and judgment, and the service took shape nicely to connect our worship through music with the word that he shared. As I was planning this a month ago, it became apparent that many of the options to which I was being drawn were songs with female lead parts, so we decided to go for broke this weekend, and put two of our ladies (Sarah Oldberg and Kelsey Thomsen) up front on acoustic guitars, and I picked up my electric for rhythm work for the weekend. It felt like a very shared service, in terms of leadership, and it was a very enjoyable change to break from the routine and do something unique. I loved each song that made up this service, as we celebrated the return, reign, and rule of Jesus Christ. Here's our set list from this weekend:
"Everlasting God" (Bb) [Brenton Brown and Ken Riley] Call to Worship - Psalm 98:4-9 "Forever Reign" (Ab) [Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan] Welcome/Offering/Announcements "Hosanna" (E) [Brooke Fraser] "Lord of Lords" (E) [Brooke Fraser] "Lord of All" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill] Message - "I Believe: God Returns" [David Hinkle] "Sing to the King" (E) [Billy Foote and Charles Silvester Horne] Dismissal
We opened the pre-service time with "Everlasting God," which is a favorite of our congregation and set up the service well. Because the message was about Christ's return and judgment, I wanted to focus on God's immutability, His timelessness, His power, His justice, His love, His return, and His reign. Each of the songs in our set this week focuses on one or more of the attributes from this list. The call to worship was also focused this way, from Psalm 98, where it calls all of creation to worship the Lord, "for He is coming." I excited about how we were able to even tie this in with the focus this week.
After the call to worship, we moved into "Forever Reign." This song is fairly new to me, but the congregation had done it many times before I moved here. I love the message and the build of this song. Originally we had this song at the end of the second set, but it was part of a massive reordering of the service to move a specific song at the end of the service. It was a little more mid-tempo than I would usually prefer toward the top of the service, but it got us started out right, and set the tone for the service. Because of the subject matter of the weekend, which included the eternal punishment of hell, I felt that we needed to be somewhat gentle with our worship set, not relishing in the suffering of the lost through overly exuberant songs, while still properly exalting Jesus as righteous Lord and King.
After the welcome time, we moved to Brooke Fraser's "Hosanna," which points to Christ's second coming and the preparation of His people for that return. fromt here we segued straight into the chorus of "Lord of Lords," which is a beautiful song out of the book of Revelation, portraying the throne room of Jesus, and how we, as the people of God, long for that day when we will see Him in His full glory, and will worship Him completely. We finished this set with Kristian Stanfill's "Lord of All," which is fairly new to our congregation, but is a song that I insist that churches everywhere ought to sing. It is in the vein of Tomlin's "How Great is Our God," but I think it is even more powerful, and is something the church needs to say to God.
After David's challenging message, we responded with Billy Foote's rewrite of Charles Silvester Horne's hymn "Sing to the King." This has always been a favorite of mine, and it was new to our congregation, despite being several years old (2003). As I mentioned above, we originally had this in the pre-service section, where the majority of our people are still entering the worship center, and may have missed the message of this song. After talking with David about the value of this song, and how it fit so well with his message, we decided to move it to the end, and move other things around to make that work. It was absolutely the right decision. Whereas many times the high point of the worship in music is somewhere just before the message, this weekend it was during the response time. When we sang the second verse ("For His returning we watch and we pray/ We will be ready the dawn of that day/ We'll join in singing with all the redeemed/ 'Cause Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King!"), we had vivid images in our minds from the message, and it it was a rich moment, and I think we will definitely be incorporating this song in the future, because it is powerful and solid, and points to Christ's return, all the while avoiding the cheesy factor that usually accompanies that kind of song...
This week felt very different for a few reasons: the message was on a very difficult subject, I felt a little foggy from a sinus thing, and we had several people co-leading. My prayer this morning regarding the message was that we would love the truth. I think this is something that we need to pray for our churches and our leaders. The truth is not always easy or convenient, but it is something to be upheld and loved, because it is from God. Jesus is the personal embodiment of the truth. This was one of those weeks where hard truth was being shared, and we needed to pray for our hearts to love even the hard truths.
I hope you had a great week of worship wherever you were. Be sure to check out Sunday Set Lists, where others share about their experiences this weekend.
May the church love the truth.