“When the music fades, all is stripped away and I simply come.
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart.
I’m coming back to the heart of worship,
and it’s all about you, all about you, Jesus.”
By Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
These are lines from the song “The Heart Of Worship” by Matt Redman, and it’s one of my favorite worship music to sing. It speaks to me, and I connect to it. If you sing it and give attention to the words, although the word “love” is never mentioned even once, you are singing a love song to Jesus. This song somehow brings me back to a place and time in my faith when everything was raw and simple - no full band of instruments, no colorful banners and decorations, no bright lights. Just me in my 8’ by 8’ room in the Philippines, singing worship songs to Jesus, with just my voice and my heart. This is my “place”. I often ask the choir, before we sing a song in worship and as the piano starts playing the introduction, to put their selves (heart and spirit) in a place where they can connect to the music. I believe that if we’re connected to the song we’re singing, it helps us deliver its message to the congregation more effectively, and in most cases, get ministered to at the same time. I can remember a number of instances when while conducting, I had to control an overwhelming emotion brought out by the song. As much as I have loved to get lost in the song’s message and go to my “place”, the task at hand was to direct the choir and minister. This is also a reason why we end each choir rehearsal with a prayer. After a couple of hours of learning notes, singing in harmony, and joyful fellowship, I believe that praying together at the end not only gives the chance to lift up our church family who are in need, but brings as back to reconnect with God. That raw and simple place where we can come with just a heart of worship.
Postscript: If you know me well, as most of you do, I DO love full band of instruments, colorful banners and decorations, and bright lights (occasionally). Just every once in a while, I like to step back and go to my “place” to reconnect and, in a way, recharge. - Rey
By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
One of the best-known stories from the days following the Resurrection is that of the Apostle Thomas, who could not bring himself to believe that Jesus had risen until he had seen Jesus in person and placed his hands on Jesus’ wounds. Jesus says to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29). The idea of faith, of believing without seeing, is central to our Christian identities.
Our son is at the age where he is absorbing worlds and stories that he sees in books, movies, on television, and in his interactions with families and friends. Star Wars is a particular favorite (it’s our own fault - a few months ago we played the beginning of one movie to test the speakers on our new television, he came in and said, “what’s this?” and ten minutes later he was hooked). With its fantastical space battles, alien creatures and mystical powers, there’s a lot that we have to explain are just stories. And yet, because he’s like many toddlers learning about authority and boundaries and power, he likes to identify with the Empire (he marches down the hall with his “blaster” singing the Imperial March). And when we explain that the Empire is the “bad” side, that they don’t win, and that there are consequences for their “naughty” behavior, he tells us that he knows it’s just a story, that he “won’t believe it when he’s 10, because 10 is grown-up, and grown-ups don’t believe those stories.”
At the same time, we struggle with the inescapable presence of (spoiler alert!) fictional commercialized characters that are tied into some of the holiest of Christian days (was I vague enough?) - we don’t want to lie to our son, but we also know that their presence is everywhere during those seasons, and we don’t want him to “narc” to the other kids, for whom that may be a cherished part of their holiday seasons. We’ve tried (so far, somewhat successfully) to explain that they represent the spirit of the holidays (of giving, of joy, of rebirth), but we know (especially as with each year the anticipation of presents becomes a more powerful desire) that this will be an uphill battle.
So when our son is in church, or Sunday school, and he is told about the life and teachings of Jesus, and as he begins to understand the events of the Passion and the Resurrection - how do we instill the love and the faith that holds us to this miracle, when so many omnipresent creations of man need to be defined as fiction?
I don’t have a good answer yet, and perhaps I never will. But I do think it starts with how the miracle manifests itself in a million smaller miracles each and every day: the kindness of strangers, the act of forgiveness, the strengthening of communities, loving your neighbors as yourselves. Many of these may go unnoticed, and are very often overshadowed by events - real and fictional - that exude darkness and conflict and defensiveness. For a child, these tiny acts of good may lack the visceral or emotional response of a light saber battle, or finding an egg filled with chocolate. And for an adult, these tiny acts of good may lack the visceral or emotional response of accumulating wealth at any cost, or using the vilification of those who don’t look, or love, or pray like we do to cover our own insecurities or vulnerabilities.
Our job as parents - and as neighbors, as citizens, as Christians - is to celebrate those daily miracles, to raise them up, and to perform those miracles ourselves. To truly believe that these small acts can and will hold back the tide of darkness, of intolerance, of indifference, often without seeing the direct or indirect impact. To believe without seeing; to have faith.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.