This week our pastor, Joe Hishmeh, shared some biblical wisdom regarding friendship, as we began a new series called "Can You Relate?". He emphasized the importance of having true, deep friendships in following the Lord. We need people we can trust with all our lives. As he said during the message, "Deep friendships are enduring," and "I need to be what I want to see in others." The areas where Joe pointed our focus were availability, acceptance, awareness, affirmation, and appreciation. It was a powerful challenge, especially for someone who leans toward being a "loner" like I do. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.
For our singing this week, we focused mostly on songs that emphasized the solid foundation and constant presence of Christ with us. He never changes, He never fails, and He never leaves us. He is a shelter and a refuge, and we can trust in Him.
Here's our service plan from this weekend:
Pre-Service - "Beautiful Things" (D) [Michael Gungor, Lisa Gungor]
"Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)" (G) [Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown]
"Cornerstone" (Bb) [Edward Mote, Jonas Myrin, Reuben Morgan, Eric Liljero, William B. Bradbury]
Time of Confession
"God Is Able" (Bb) [Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding]
"Your Name" (Bb) [Paul Baloche, Glenn Packiam]
Message - "Can You Relate? - Friends" [Joe Hishmeh]
"Forever Reign" (Ab) [Reuben Morgan, Jason Ingram]
"Beautiful Things" - We sang this song during the countdown time this weekend. I have wanted to do it for a long time, and it finally worked out and fit well. I love the lyric of this song, as it reminds us that despite the brokenness and sin in our lives and our world, Jesus makes things new and can make beautiful things from the mess. He is the one who can restore and recreate us. This song is written by Gungor, which is an amazingly talented and creative band. They use varying textures and stylings throughout their catalog of music, and it is always an enjoyable listen. If you haven't heard them, check them out ("Dry Bones" is probably my favorite song of theirs - it's AMAZING).
"Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)" - This is one of our church's favorite songs, and it is a great song to use towards the beginning of a service, as it is a call to worship and to opening our lives to the direction of the Lord. We can trust Him and give Him our lives without fear, because He is faithful and able, and in Him there is hope and promise.
"Cornerstone" - This song is fairly new to our congregation (our NextGen worship director, Erik Oldberg, introduced it last week during our family worship weekend). I had first heard this song before Easter this year, but it had fallen off my radar, and I'm glad Erik brought it back up after the new Hillsong Live release. I really appreciate how this song uses a beautiful and powerful lyric, and gives it a fresh take for a younger generation. In my opinion, "On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand" is one of the greatest hymns (remember that a "hymn" is basically a metered poem of praise to God that was usually set to music at a later time) ever penned. It inspires our confidence in the finished work of Christ alone, and that is the type of thing we need to sing continually, because we tend to drift toward confidence in what we do/have done and toward independence rather than dependence on Christ. I have had this song stuck in my head all week. I look forward to continuing to sing it together with our church.
"God Is Able" - After a time where we confessed sin--things that come between us and the Lord or between us and the people around us--we sang this song and trusted in the Lord's finished work for us, and in His unfailing love and presence with us. He is with us, He is for us, and He is on our side.
"Your Name" - We haven't sung this song in a long time (I'm not sure I have even sung it here with Fellowship), but with the subject matter, Sarah singing with us, and the cello, it was a perfect fit. I have always enjoyed this song. It is simple, but once again, it points our confidence to Jesus Christ as our "strong and mighty tower," "a shelter like no other," and the only one who has the power to save.
"Forever Reign" - We responded to the message with this song, which sings of the perfect attributes of God, compared with our failings and weaknesses. It is one of our congregation's favorite songs, and it has become one of mine as well. The bridge is a great moment of dedication: "My heart will sing/ No other name/ Jesus, Jesus." Before we sang, we committed to opening our lives up to others in one of the areas that Joe spoke about during the message. Then we turned to look to Christ and to commit ourselves to Him, who is the only one who can truly transform us.
This weekend was really simple and enjoyable, because we used a purely acoustic band. Erik and Sarah Oldberg led with me, and we also had a first-time cellist, Laramie Hulse, playing with us. She did a great job for her first time playing with us and getting used to the way we do things, and I'm looking forward to having her play with the team again in the near future. I have to confess that cello is probably my favorite instrument (aside from guitar), because of its powerful warmth and range. If I could find the time to learn another instrument, that would be the one.
We didn't use our in-ear monitoring system this weekend, and instead switched to floor monitors, and it was nice to hear the congregation singing out in the open. The accuracy and clarity of in-ears forces us to sacrifice a little in the way of hearing the congregation as clearly, while using floor monitors forces us to sacrifice a little in clarity and accuracy. For that reason, it's not always the best for our team to use wedges, but this week was a perfect week to do it.
I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were!
What were your thoughts or experiences from this weekend in your church?
p.s. don't forget to check out The Worship Community!