One of my favorite aspects of this calling is the opportunity to plan and lead worship. Jonnia, Chris, and I approach worship planning with the genuine desire to create a service that will honor God and help people experience God. Many others assist in making this possible- accompanists, choir members, sound and graphics coordinators, ushers, and extended session volunteers- by sharing their gifts and time.
Unfortunately, planning and leading worship can make it difficult for me to actually worship. I am constantly aware of "all the moving parts." As I scan the crowd I making mental notes of who's present... and who's missing. My attention is drawn to last minute notes handed in the hallways or distracted by a look of concern on the face of a worshiper. For me to get "lost in worship" can mean missing my cue!
But, this last week, in a darkened gym on the Third Sunday of Advent, I worshiped. My moment came as we sang a song we don't often sing. The words of the song were moving, but I've sung them scores of times over the years. This time it wasn't the words or the music that led me to worship... it was the voices. With each successive stanza I found myself blinking away a tear and my voice faltering as we united our voices with the voices of the ancient church and the prophets of old to sing, "Rejoice!"
It was as if together we sensed the promise of advent, the promise of joy was ours. No matter the challenges, no matter how great the disappointments, no matter how crazy things seemed, we, as God's people could "rejoice!" And I worshiped the One we call Emmanuel, Dayspring, Wisdom, and the Desire of nations.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!