Palm Sunday weekend (we had to tag "weekend" onto it because of our weekend services--we landed there after a little bit of discussion...) is one that brings mixed feelings. On one hand, we celebrate Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem as Messiah and King. On the other hand, we see our fickleness as humans, where one day we are praising Him as King, and later that same week we are calling for His death. At the same moment we recognize Jesus' supremacy and power and worth; along with our own weakness, foolishness, and wickedness. Planning for this weekend, we tried to emphasize the real focus of this moment: the Messiah has come to save us! Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and He is our only hope. Each of our songs this week pointed in some way to Christ as Messiah or King.
Here's our set from this weekend:
Pre-Service - "God Is Alive" (A) [Steve Fee, Eddie Kirkland]
Call to Worship - Matthew 21:6-9
"Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)" (G) [Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown]
"Hosanna" (G) [Brooke Fraser, arr. by Starfield]
"Our God" (G) [Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Jesse Reeves]
"Son Of God" (G) [Jon Neufeld, Tim Neufeld, Ed Cash, and Gordon Cochran]
Message - "The Heroic Rescue of Humanity: The Messiah" [Joe Hishmeh]
Response - "Lord Of All" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill]
This weekend we sang "God Is Alive" for the second time. It seemed like the song caught on a little better this time, and people were participating more, even though the song was still slated in the pre-service time slot. Much of the congregation was clapping and singing together. I was a little unsure of the song's reception last week when we introduced it, but the response this weekend was encouraging. I'm looking forward to using this song on Easter, because the lyric is perfect for the occasion.
After the call to worship, we moved to Paul Baloche and Brenton Brown's "Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)," which is a perfect fit for Palm Sunday weekend. The chorus echoes the statements made by the disciples and fans of Jesus as He entered into Jerusalem, but restates them while being informed by our Christian understanding of the person and the work of Christ: "Hosanna, 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." That word, Hosanna, literally means "come save us now," and it was what the people of Israel were crying out to Jesus as He entered in as King. However, they didn't really know what they were asking. They didn't really know what they needed. They were asking for deliverance and salvation from Roman rule in their lives. They were asking for less than what God intended for the Messiah. What they really needed was deliverance from sin and death, and restoration to God. Joe shared this idea in a powerful way this weekend. We can either trust in Christ as our Messiah, or we can seek deliverance our own way by trusting in worthless idols--"substitute Saviors."
Following the welcome time, we kicked off the second worship set with Brooke Fraser's "Hosanna." This week we did a variation of Starfield's performance of the song, which is suited better for my vocal. I like their treatment of the song, and how they gave it a little more overall energy, which serves a little better toward the top of a worship set.
Next we moved to "Our God," which has become a staple for us. The concept of this song fits very well with Luke's account of the triumphal entry, as he wrote that "the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen" (Luke 19:37). The verses of "Our God" align perfectly with that, as they sing, "Water You turned into wine/ Opened the eyes of the blind/ There's no one like You/ None like You/ Into the darkness You shine/ Out of the ashes we rise/ There's no one like You/ None like You." The rest of the song sings of the Lord's great power and ability to rescue, and when He is for us, there is nothing that can stand against us. It was a great fit for Palm Sunday weekend.
We finished the second worship set with "Son of God," which is new to our congregation. I sang this song once when I came the church to lead as a guest, but it was completely new here. This week was the first week in which we'll be teaching this song, and we will pick up teaching it after Easter weekend. I love this song because it presents Jesus in many respects, such as Creator, Savior, Lord, and promised Messiah. It proclaims His surpassing worth and greatness, along with His love and forgiveness for us. While very simple, it covers a lot of ground, and shows how Jesus, from beginning to end, is King. It declares His worth and how He deserves our worship in everything. Here's the lyric:
"Son of God"
Son of God, Shaper of the stars
You alone the dweller of my heart
Mighty King, how beautiful You are
Son of God, the Father's gift to us
You alone were broken on the altar of love
Precious Lamb, our freedom's in Your blood
It's in Your blood
Jesus, O Holy One
I sing to You, forgiven
Savior, I'm overcome
With Your great love for me
Song of God, strength beyond compare
You alone, the darkness cannot bear
Lord of love, Your kindness draws me near
It draws me near
Son of God, prophecy of old
You alone, Redeemer of my soul
Come again and lead Your people home
Come lead us home
You are worthy
You are worthy
You are worthy of all my praise
You are beautiful
You are beautiful
I will lift up my hands and sing
We finished the service with one of my favorite songs, "Lord of All." I have discussed this song at length in the past, but suffice it to say that I believe this song is one that the Church needs to sing. It declares the power, glory, and victory of Jesus, the King of kings. It proclaims the truth of Philippians 2:10-11: "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." It does this with strength and truth, and I have never regretted singing this song in corporate worship. I don't think we, as the body of Christ, can sing this truth enough.
On a technical note, we continued using the click track and the Aviom system, and it continues to be a great asset to our team. We are consistently tighter as a band, and it cuts lots of time from our rehearsals as an added benefit. Stephen, our drummer, had never played with a click before, and he did a fantastic job operating it and sticking with it. I have given more responsibility to our drummers, as they not only have to play their instrument, but now they also have to make the tempo adjustments to our click track (which every band member hears), and start and stop it at the appropriate times. I continue to be impressed with our team as we challenge ourselves to get better at what we do, so that we might serve our congregation better. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with this awesome team.
I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Be sure to check out The Worship Community to see what other leaders and team members planned and experienced this week in their worship services.
Hosanna! Glory to God in the highest.
In the Son,