This week we continued in our third week of Advent and our series, "Simple Christmas." Pastor Joe Hishmeh shared about how God chooses to use simple places in His plan of redemption on this earth, and how Bethlehem was a great example of this. These kinds of places provide a perfect platform for God to display His power. I think it reminded all of us that we are here in Topeka for a purpose, and we need to join God in what He is doing here. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.
Here's our service plan from this weekend:
"Joyful (The One Who Saves)" (C) [Edward Hodges, Henry van Dyke, Ludwig van Beethoven, w/ chorus & bridge by Brenton Brown, Jason Ingram]
"O Come Let Us Adore Him" (D) [Matt Crocker, Autumn Hardman, C. Frederick Oakeley, Ryan Taubert, John Francis Wade]
Message - "Simple Places" [Joe Hishmeh]
"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" (Em) [Henry Sloane Coffin, Thomas Helmore, and John Mason Neale, arr. by Bill Horn]
"What Child Is This" (Em) [William Chatterton Dix, arr. by Bill Horn]
"Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)" (G) [Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown]
Thoughts: This was a great weekend! We arranged everything with a heavy acoustic emphasis. We had two acoustics, electric bass, keys, drums with mostly hot rods, djembe, and muted trumpet played by our discipleship pastor, David Hinkle. Our band did such a good job of finding their respective fit in the mix, and it turned out great. I love our team and how God has gifted them. It is a blessing to serve with each of them.
We repeated "Joyful (The One Who Saves)" from last week, and it is just a great song to start with. I love the combination of old and new with this one. We also sang "O Come Let Us Adore Him" from Hillsong's Christmas album, We Have A Savior. This is another song that we introduced last year during Advent, and we sang it recently in our Overflow night of worship last Sunday. The added chorus ("O come all ye faithful/ Come let us adore Him") just stays with you. The chorus just blasts (reaches a G at one point, and I get a little red in the face as a result...), creating a ton of energy. Combined with the band we used this weekend, it was a great moment.
We responded to the message with "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "What Child Is This," both with the feel of a lazy acoustic groove, which was really locked in by our drummer Bob Fulmer, percussionist Ryan Hoskinson, and our bassist Ben Engstrom. I loved the way these two songs worked together.
We finished the weekend with "Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)," really making the chorus of the song our prayer: "Hosanna (which is a name meaning "come save us"), Hosanna/ You are the God who saves us/ Worthy of all our praises/ Hosanna, Hosanna/ Come have Your way among us/ We welcome You here, Lord Jesus." Because of the message this weekend, we wanted to finish by declaring that God has each of us here in Topeka for a purpose, and we want His will to be done and His kingdom to expand here. This song was a great way to finish our weekend together. It was the first time I had ever seen this song done at the end of a service (it is usually a "call to worship" kind of song), but I liked it a lot as a send off.
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend together with the church. We prayed together for the families who were affected by the tragedy in Newtown, CT, which was a sobering reminder of the evil in this world, and for us to make our relationships a priority in this lifetime. We need to share the love of Jesus with one another, and with the world around us. We need to be lights in the darkness. Change begins with us.
As a side note, I got to baptize my 5-year-old daughter after the last service this weekend, which was an amazing blessing. I am so thankful that she has trusted in the saving work of Jesus for her, and wants the world to know. It's a beautiful thing!
What were your thoughts or experiences on your worship experience this weekend?
p.s. don't forget to check out The Worship Community!