Devotions for June, Week 2

Sorry this is a little late getting up! Here’s a recap of last week’s posts:

Photo June 9, Listen

If we don’t work on listening, we will become a generation that nobody will come to for help.

 

 

Photo-2June 10, Pride

Those who wear God’s love don’t think of themselves – not because they’re not worth thinking about, but because God has filled them with His love and they have no need to feel insecure.

 

 

DSC_0292June 11, Gift

A reflection on my nephew Haden, on his 3rd birthday

 

 

Photo-3June 12, Diligence

If we put as much work into seeking God as we do other, less important things, what would happen?

 

Photo-4June 13, Aesthetic

Sometimes music is the mechanism we use to tune into the Holy Spirit. But sometimes the music itself is the Holy Spirit encounter.

 

Photo-5June 14, Favor

we should never be ungrateful for the doors He opens or doesn’t open, as He knows us far better than we know ourselves!

 

We’re halfway kids! Happy Sunday and tune in tomorrow!
-Sarah 🙂

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Devotions for June, Entry 13 {aesthetic}

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. Nehemiah 9:6

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One thing I love about music is that it is both aesthetic and functional.  Sometimes it’s more important for music to serve a functional purpose (keeping time, providing structure) and other times music serves an aesthetic purpose, to warm or enthrall others with its beauty.

This aspect is used in music therapy. It’s called: music in therapy vs. music as therapy. For music in therapy, the music is used functionally to promote socialization or memory recall or provide an opportunity for self-expression, among countless other outcomes. For music as therapy, the music itself serves as the prime vehicle for improvement. For example, if I sing a song with a patient with Alzheimer’s who tends to be withdrawn and afterwards they smile at me and express an emotion, I’ve used music in therapy for mood enhancement and self-expression. But, if that same patient is restless due to extreme pain and they need distracted until the pain meds kick in, I use music as therapy – the music itself is the aid, not the reaction from the music.

I like that God is artistic. He didn’t just make things functional and leave it at that. He gave us beauty to admire. I was recently at a Gungor concert (my first). Holy cow, it was the most unbelievably talented, creative, innovative group of musicians I’ve heard in a long time. Particularly for being a Christian band (sorry, it’s true.) What struck me was that they didn’t pray during the show or talk about God, they just played their music. And that was worship for me. I stood there in wonder of God because of how amazing the music was.

I think music can be used in worship like it can be used in therapy. It can be music in worship, or music as worship. Sometimes music is the mechanism we use to tune into the Holy Spirit. But sometimes the music itself is the Holy Spirit encounter.

And I would like to emphasize that it doesn’t have to be worship music. Case in point, below is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard:

p.s. there will be a full moon tonight! I love full moons. 

 

The Versatility of Worship

Thank heaven God is creative.

Did you ever wonder what it would be like if He wasn’t? And not only is He creative, but He made us all creative. If this weren’t so, we wouldn’t know color. We wouldn’t know beauty, or a melody, or what an idea was.

One thing I love about God giving us creativity is we have come up with so many different ways to worship Him. And the cool thing is, there’s no wrong way to do it, if you have a genuine heart. He doesn’t care what songs you sing or what you say or what symbols you use, as long as it’s real and you mean it. I’m reminded of the time I took communion on a spring break mission trip. It was impromptu, on the way home, in the van. The elements? A cheez-it and a swig of someone’s bottled fruit juice that we passed around.

Lately, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to worship God in vastly different environments.

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Two weeks ago, invited by dear friends, I attended a choir rehearsal at a church where I was absolutely the whitest white person there. I sat in between my friends and sang gospel songs, going over them by rote, with no music, and actually very few words. Unlike other church choir rehearsals I’ve been in, where our noses are in the music and we work on diction and where to breath, this rehearsal was simply about praising God. I can’t describe the feeling of having my voice drowned out by a group of people who not only sounded great, but meant it. I was almost overwhelmed to tears with the sense of God’s presence in this community. And this was a choir rehearsal. It was so what I needed at the time. I had one word for my friend when she asked me what I thought: cathartic. They didn’t even care that I could’t attend the performance we were rehearsing for. It was an incredible experience.

Five days later, on the Wednesday before Easter, I attended a Seder at school. A local Rabbi led the meal and about 25 faculty and students attended. The Seder (Hebrew for “order”) is the Jewish feast that marks the beginning of Passover. There is very specific food and drink that is presented, some as symbols, and some to eat. Participants read from a text called the Haggadah. In it is the story of the Passover and the exodus from Egypt, along with prayers and songs. It was really humbling and insightful to be a part of this service. I love the tradition of Jewish culture, how old everything is. I really value the history, and it definitely puts Christianity in a more tangible and savory context. But that’s a whole other post…

On Good Friday, I attended a Tenebrae Service at the church I normally go to. (Tenebrae is Latin for shadow.) It was very dark, somber, quiet. I’m fortunate to know the man who led the service. His story alone is incredible and to be able to participate in this experience with him leading was quite impactful. He spoke slowly and his voice was fluid and resonant. He wasn’t afraid of silence. The music was stripped of its complexity, just acoustic guitar and voice. These are my favorite types of services because this is how I operate inside. Dark, somber, quiet. Processing. This service enabled people to simply process Jesus’ death. Good for the soul.

Yesterday for Easter, a friend invited me to her church for the sunrise service, free breakfast (amen) and the regular church service. I was (to steal a term from a dear friend) on the “strugglebus” emotionally and physically, so I didn’t mind getting lost in the extra mile of spectacle that an Easter service is. I hadn’t been to a service like this in a long time. A usual house band complete with piano, keyboard, AND organ (it was amusing to see an organist with an in-ear monitor), singers strewn across the front and a choir in the back, complete with the season’s best outfits, some even with hats. The pastor had that old school authoritative presence and in his sermon I realized he sounded just like Tommy Lee Jones. The atmosphere really was great and while I wasn’t feeling all “Praaaaaaise Jeezuz” I appreciated all those who were.

God is creative. And he knows that even some of the most creative people don’t feel creative sometimes, that’s why there is liturgy. Sometimes the uncreative get a burst of whimsy and need unorganization – that’s what repeating choruses are for. Sometimes we just need to be still. Sometimes we just need to be loud. Sometimes we don’t know what we need, and that’s okay too.

As long as it’s genuine, God is pleased.