I must admit to feeling regret that this year I had not paid as much attention to Lent and Holy Week, particularly Good Friday and Easter. I sighed and felt drawn to some of the pictures I received on WhatsApp. These are pictures that demonstrated careful attention to aesthetics in worship. These arrangements inspires us to draw near to Jesus. They seem to draw us towards greater devotion and adoration because they point us to a pivotal turning point in salvation history. They point us to God we can relate to easily and who gives us hope: a suffering and victorious God.
The traditional churches are much better at this. There is something we can learn from them. In the liturgical calendar these would be the high points of the year, requiring much preparation and inspiring longing and anticipation. It could be viewed as an annual corporate means of grace for renewal. The repentance and prayerful devotion of Lent, leading to meditation on the passion of our Lord, will lead us to humble ourselves and renew our first love for Jesus. And Easter is when we allow the resurrection power to revive us afresh to new life.
Above are some of the beautiful arrangements of worship focal points in the main sanctuaries or other halls. They are all from the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary branch in Australia. How lovelyare Thy dwelling places!
Awaken Generation’s “Jesus I Come” is a melodious and inspiring worship song. The tune is inviting and appealing and easy to follow. The more you hear and sing it, the more it grows on you. The lyrics are captivating, and expresses God’s loving invitations to us to follow Him more closely and deeply, and our loving response.
I believe that if it had been written and sung by Bethel Church or Hillsong it would have been much more popular and widespread in usage. It’s a pity that a song of such high quality and production does not develop a following it deserves. I pray that more churches would use this song. “All to Jesus I surrender” and “I surrender”(Hillsong) now has a genuine contender that expresses our response of surrender to God in a lovely modern tune,
The worship ministry invited the Awaken Generation(AG) to do a workshop on prophetic worship. We invited them to take the Sunday worship service and message as well. This would give the worship teams a rest and they would be inspired by AG’s worship team. We were blessed by AG’s generosity, anointing and inspiration. They ministered like rain upon us with their tight music and the prophetic worship led by Alarice, with her passionate voice and anointing, and Ian with his steady voice. No strain, so natural, yet supernatural.
Even the sound system adjusted by their professional sound engineer was dynamic and enhanced the worship team’s capabilities. Calvin Hong then took Psalm 100 and preached through it verse by verse, and at the end, with some words of revelation, ministered to the congregation in prayer ministry.
Later in the Sunday afternoon they conducted a three hours workshop for the worship teams. This bunch of mentors are committed, serious and inspiring. I have since seen our worship teams ventured out with boldness in prophetic worship.
The AG team hailed from different churches and they have great music skills, experience and the Holy Spirit is upon them. I unreservedly recommend them to any church that wants to motivate and train their contemporary worship teams.
One of the tensions faced by young and older members in the same worship service together is that of the introduction of new songs. Young people are quick with picking up new tunes. They are passionate with singing songs that resonate with their heart. They keep tabs with the latest in Hillsong and Bethel worship. The worship team knows this and gives to them what they want. So they introduce new songs after new songs. A few may get sung again and again, and become part of the church’s repertoire and worship memory. Many fall by the wayside and are forgotten.
To resolve the tension, we need to take heed to wise heads like C.S. Lewis. He mentioned that like dancing, worship works best when you do not have to think about it.
“As long as you notice and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing, but only learning to dance.”(C.S. Lewis in Letters to Malcolm)
Thus the more familiar you are with a worship song or hymn the more likely you will be able to focus on God’s presence, instead of trying so hard to follow the tune, and catch up with the lyrics. Thus in worship, familiarity enhances, enriches, empowers the God encounter.
Does it mean then that we do not learn new songs? New songs are important as they express our adoration and need in ways that the children of each generation can relate to and identify with as their voice. This is a powerful way by which God’s presence nourish young people’s minds and moves upon their hearts.
The best way then is for us to introduce new songs intentionally and systematically. This means order and discipline is needed. Sing it over several Sundays till familiarity breeds worship, not contempt. Worship then becomes “like dancing”.