Pastoral Series - Worship Matters

Worship Matters – Shifting to “Enough!”

   We have been looking at various aspects of worship, and why they all matter, for months now. Enough for now! And so we transition to a little series for the rest of this Fall which coincides with what we’re doing in worship – and we’re calling it “Enough!” What a peculiar word. If you were…

Learn More

Worship Matters: In the Bulb

 The origin of hymns, the life stories of composers: these usually aren’t something I obsess over, maybe in the same way I enjoy watching ballplayers or listening to music without needing to know so much about a quarterback’s or a guitarist’s love life or partying. But sometimes circumstances within which a hymn was birthed can…

Learn More

Worship Matters: How Great

   When I was a boy, my mother tuned in to the Billy Graham crusades that were televised. I don’t recall much of what the preacher said, but I was always struck and moved (as much as a little kid can be “moved”) by George Beverly Shea singing “How Great Thou Art.” It’s a great…

Learn More

Worship Matters: It Is Well

   Back in 1873, Horatio G. Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” – and the backstory is stunning, and inspiring. Two years earlier, his four year old son had died of Scarlet fever. Then his family boarded the steamship Ville du Havre, bound for Europe. Disaster: the ship sank, and 226 people were…

Learn More

Worship Matters: While I Have Breath

   After a teenaged Isaac Watts complained to his father about lackluster music in church, his dad said “Well then, young man, why don’t you give us something better to sing?” One of his better-to-sing is “I’ll Praise My Maker While I Have Breath.” He had read and contemplated Psalm 146, and penned this hymn…

Learn More

Worship Matters: My Soul, My Life, My All

   When he was 18 years old, Isaac Watts left church one Sunday, complaining to his father about how deplorable the music in the service had been. His father replied, “Well then, young man, why don’t you give us something better to sing?” One of his best was “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” No…

Learn More

Worship Matters: Lift High

   I think everyone in our church family loves it that we end every sanctuary worship service by singing “Lift High the Cross” right after the benediction. This hymn is well over 100 years old, but I didn’t learn it until it appeared in our then-new United Methodist hymnal in 1989. Risky, fixating on this…

Learn More

Worship Matters: One Little Word

   A marvelous travel memory: my daughter Sarah and I were poking around in the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, Germany, where Martin Luther figured out who he was and what God was asking of him. We stumbled upon a tour group listening to their guide – explaining that at that moment we were in the…

Learn More

Worship Matters: Pescador

  When our then-new hymnal came out back in 1989, I was delighted by many of the new-to-me hymns, including “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore.” The first time I heard and sang it, I was in Stuart Auditorium which looks out over Lake Junaluska. It wasn’t hard to find myself remembering times I’ve…

Learn More

Worship Matters: For Everyone Born

   Hymns extol God’s goodness, and bind the individual’s soul to God. Hymns also can have an impact on society, on us as people together, on the Church’s work out in the world. When the earliest Christians sang “Christ is Lord,” it was a protest against the Roman empire’s linchpin claim that Caesar was lord….

Learn More