Someone wrote me a song as a gift for my ordination.
Best. Gift. Ever.
You can hear the songs and the sermon / call story that inspired them via the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church podcast ministry.
On Sunday morning at Hennepin Avenue, in anticipation of being ordained a full elder in the United Methodist Church this Wednesday evening (livestream link), I preached about my call story. I offered highlights of my life from childhood to adulthood when I was open to God and when I was closed to God. If you didn’t know, I have had times in my life when I was a strong atheist, wanting nothing to do with God and definitely not the church. I am not ashamed of that, nor do I condemn atheists because while there are many reasons people are atheist I have certainly been there. It was a sermon of vulnerability and I knew I could trust my congregation with my story.
Ken Medema is a superb musical artist. He’s written many inspiring pieces and even a children’s musical based on the Book of Jonah (my first sermon at Hennepin Avenue – filled with a metaphor of vomit! – was in response to the children performing Medema’s The Big Fish in worship, so we have come full circle). His live concerts often consist of him asking someone from the audience to tell him a brief story from their life and he responds with an original song, writing the music and lyrics on the spot. One of the first things Ken will tell you about himself is he is blind, so he’s taking notes in his mind as he listens to you. It is truly amazing.
Before worship, he and I spoke and I knew that everything he’d offer today would be in response to what came before, including my sermon. In that sense, I knew the song he crafted would be about servanthood and walking the journey. What I didn’t understand is he would truly put my life to music.
Ken made my life a song. There’s no other way to put it.
First, I was moved to tears as I listened to my life as a song. It was unexpected and such a gift. I sat in the preacher’s chair, up on the chancel and behind Ken while he was at the grand piano on the floor. After worship, the only comment I received more about the song’s beautiful content was
Today I have a review of A Field Guide to Contemporary Worship: How to Begin and Lead Band-Based Worship by Andrew Boesnecker and James Graeser, a hand book I found having a few gems but overall disappointing as it extensively covers the “how” of contemporary worship but lends cursory attention to the “why.” You can also read, rate, and comment on a truncated version of my review at Amazon.
Worship leaders Andy Boesenecker and Pastor Jim Graeser offer thought and advice on creating and implementing band-based worship for congregations looking to add a “contemporary” flare to their worship offerings. While there are gems of thought throughout the handbook, as one whose history is grounded in traditional worship and trying to learn more about the “why” behind contemporary worship, I was disappointed to find this book is more weighted on the “how to” side of the scale. I found my hermeneutic of suspicion overwhelming my attempt at offering the handbook it a hermeneutic of generosity. Still, I offer below a sampling of what I found helpful in the handbook before I explore anything which was frustrating.
Boesenecker and Graeser open by creating context for contemporary worship, rightly pointing out the term “contemporary worship” means many things to many people. They posit that as American culture segues from an auditory appetite to one which is satiated visually, so too must the church acknowledge and embrace