A Song of Worship

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
This Advent season, we were asked to write about what worship means to us as individuals. When proposed with this question I thought, “What on earth can I write about?” As quickly as that thought came to mind, God told me, “music and singing of course.” So I have thought about my personal soloistic and choral experiences and realized that this is when I am most with God.  No wonder I am so passionate about music. It is simply because this is how I worship God. 

After a recent rehearsal, that was becoming a little frustrating……the altos couldn’t get their part while I played it on the piano and at the same time I’m singing the soprano part…….I stopped.  I told the kids that I considered this—even practicing—to be what we are capable as giving to God as our sacrifice, our worship. See, I feel to just meander through the music, wait for someone else to sing it for you first or someone else to be the “leader”, to me is a very lazy way to serve God. I feel when we open our mouth to sing it should be the most beautiful thing we can summon out of our very soul to offer God.  

Granted, I do understand that some are more gifted than others but God says in Psalm 33:3,” Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”  Again, it doesn’t say play mindlessly but rather, skillfully. It doesn’t say only sing if you have a “good” voice.  I feel we should all take steps towards skillfully praising God. Give 100% in all you do. God has blessed me with a beautiful instrument and many others which I have the privilege to work with on Wednesdays and Sundays. So, what is stopping us from using these instruments to skillfully praise God?  FEAR! 

You see, the devil would love for us to sit idle in the pew, not open our mouths, play the role of aimlessly doing……..you guessed it…….nothing! HE WINS—-simple as that. Each Sunday morning I look out over the congregation and see those singing, raising their hands in praises to God, children opening hymnals to the wrong page but still trying to follow along and sing. Then, there are those who stand there with their mouth shut through the entire hymn. It could be the most upbeat-happy song and nothing, no emotion of happiness or a tapping of the foot. I ask myself, “How can this be?” My heart sinks in sadness. I am so saddened that these people are so fearful….and of what, someone might hear them? Psalm 66:8 says, “Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard.” It doesn’t say; let the sound of his praise be heard by only those with “pretty” voices.

So as we go into this Advent season, I challenge each of you to sing like you have never sung before, skillfully use your voice, however God has given it to you whether it be scratchy, breathy, loud and off key–open your mouth and more importantly your heart, as a sacrifice to God. Pour out your very soul! You might be surprised at what comes out!

As I close I leave you with this, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the Earth!  Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into his presence with singing!” I hope we can all do this, give it a go and don’t be scared.

For in his name and glory we sing!!
Monica Hamilton

Family Devotional: Hope

Each Sunday you will find a devotional designed for families to use with an Advent Wreath.  If your family is like mine we often sit down together for supper, and this is usually the time I plan to begin discussions about God in our lives.  Isn’t that all a devotional really is?  An opportunity to talk openly about how God is working in our daily living.  I want to encourage you to take the time, sit with those you love and talk about Jesus.  Merry Christmas!

                                                                                                                     Stacy
HOPE
First Sunday of Advent

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”–Isaiah 7: 14

The prophets spoke of a coming Savior.  Challenging the Israelites to turn from their sinful ways.  They did not and the prophets all died, and God was silent for 400 years.  What did the people do during the silence?  They waited and hoped.  Hope is a hard word to define.  Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “cherishing a desire with anticipation, to expect.”  The people were hoping for a Savior.

(Light the first candle of your Advent wreath or any candle will do.)

As you light the candle ask those around you…what are you hoping for in your life?

Read Matthew 1: 18-25

Immanuel means “God with us”.  And isn’t that the hope of all persons…that God would be with us.

Discussion Starters:  Do you think God is with us?  How do you know?  What happened today that proved that God was with you?

Closing:  We celebrate this season because Jesus is God with us.  God himself, wrapped in skin, born as a baby.  The hope of all the world.

Prayer:  Ask the youngest in your family to give a thanksgiving prayer for the baby Jesus.

Waiting Around

Advent Wreaths…

Take some time this month to make an Advent wreath for your home.  Four colored candles and one white candle are the only must haves…the rest is left up to your own creativity.  There is symbolism found in using an evergreen circle, and color of the candles.  It is a long time tradition and you can find tons of information about it.  Families can make it as complex or simple as they want.  
My plan is to create one that will be a center piece for the dinner table.  Each week we will gather over a meal or before bed…light the candle for the week and talk about the word it represents.  A way to keep us focused on the celebration of Jesus in the midst of our holiday bustle.

Each candle represents one week in the Advent season, each paired with a meaning of hope, joy, love, and peace.  All candles are lit on Christmas Eve including the Christ candle (the white candle in the center of the wreath).

During Advent the posts each Sunday will be a devotional to go along with your Advent wreath.

Before the Rush

Christmas cards…

Consider this week… the first of November… who you would like to bless with a Word of His coming…

Make it a spiritual discipline…
praying for those who will receive the Word…
that they might know His peace…

Select cards that convey the heart of the message of the Season… ask Him to guide in your selection and preparation…

Begin now… with a goal of having all addressed and blessed… before Thanksgiving…

Then early December… at the beginning of Advent… you can send them on their way… to make ready a heart to celebrate Him…

All you have made will praise you, O Lord;
your saints will extol you.
They will tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
so that all men may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Psalm 145:2
NIV

In the Waiting

In the quiet of my laundry room, the sacred space, I picked up an old journal.  I flipped through and stopped on the 46th lesson.  Nothing special about it except one word in the title…wait.

You can find the story in 2 Samuel.  David has settled in as king and the nation is experiencing a time of rest.  It left a king, used to constant battle, with nothing to do.  It is the sort of calmness that keeps David’s mind wondering…what now?   And so he finds himself a project.

He decides with Nathan’s blessing to build the Temple.  Most often God’s ways are not ours, and David was not chosen for this task.   Instead God promises David that his son will be the one to build it.  David must wait…not for weeks, or months, but for an entire lifetime.  He doesn’t even get to see the dream come to pass.

What does David do while he waits…he makes a plan.  He prepares and stores up all that will be needed for the season of building.  This in itself was an act of worship.

Thirty short days remain until the Advent season begins.  Maybe like David we should make a plan for the season.  Organizing our calendars and making a gift list could be a time of worship, couldn’t it?  Have you considered sharing scriptures at dinner time during the Advent season?  Or maybe creating a special Advent calendar.

During the month of November you can come here to find ideas for just those things.  Ways to keep our focus on the true meaning of the season. 

And so join us in the planning…as we wait.

Waiting

Waiting for…
inspiration…
and the beginning of Advent…
Sunday, December 2, 2012…

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.