In Our Greatest Gift, Henri Nouwen tells a parable of faith and hope. He imagines twins – a brother and a sister – talking to each other inside their mother’s womb:
The sister said to the brother, “I believe there is life after birth.” Her brother protested vehemently, “No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place, and we have nothing else to do but cling to the cord that feeds us.”
The little girl insisted, “There must be something more than this dark place. There must be something else, a place with light where there is freedom to move.” Still, she could not convince her twin brother.
After some silence, the sister said, “I have something else to say, and I’m afraid you won’t believe that, either, but I think there is a mother.” Her brother became furious. “A mother!” he shouted. “What are you talking about? I have never seen a mother, and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have. Why do you always want more? This is not such a bad place, after all. We have all we need, so let’s be content.”
The sister was quite overwhelmed by her brother’s response and for a while didn’t dare say anything more. But she couldn’t let go of her thoughts, and since she had only her twin brother to speak to, she finally said, “Don’t you feel these squeezes every once in a while? They’re quite unpleasant and sometimes even painful.”
“Yes,” he answered. “What’s special about that?” “Well” the sister said, “I think that these squeezes are there to get us ready for another place, much more beautiful than this, where we will see our mother face-to-face. Don’t you think that is exciting?”
The brother didn’t answer. He was fed up with the foolish talk of his sister and felt that the best thing would be simply to ignore her and hope that she would leave him alone.
From an article in “Leadership Journal” Spring 2004, p78-79.
Where is life squeezing you right now? What might God be saying to you through those squeezes? Or, what might God be trying to do through those squeezes? In what ways have you settled for the “dark place” where we live right now, and given up the hope of a better place with light and life, and the freedom to move?
See also Romans 8:14-25; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
10 Pass through, pass through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.
- Isaiah 62:10
August 7 Hymn Sing
August 14 Pick Up Choir: Precious Lord, Take My Hand
When something big or important is on the horizon, it is usually preceded by a time of preparation. The Israelites gathered twice as much manna on the sixth day, in preparation for the Sabbath. Many spend the week prior to vacation packing, making, and checking off lists. Sharon Church is dedicating an entire year to preparing the festivities to mark the Bicentennial. The season of Lent, the months before a daughter’s wedding, the night before a final exam, the weeks before a surgery…all times of preparation. And there are probably more than a few readers of this article who know exactly how many shopping days there are left before Christmas!
For church music directors, that time is August. While most worshippers are still enjoying the last relaxed weeks of informal services, musicians all over God’s Kingdom are busy preparing for the fall and winter seasons. There are many details to consider: the pastor’s sermon topics, Lectionary readings, the timing of church holidays, Communion dates. Then there are more personalized items to think about, such as how to best showcase the abilities of the musicians in a certain congregation, how to most effectively reach the hearts of the worshippers there, how to strike a balance between slow and fast music, light and heavy, old and new, traditional favorites and creative stretches.
Add to that the separate planning for choir, children, bells, musicians, soloists, and special events, continuing education in technique, hours of
practice and composition- and one has a recipe for a harried music director.
But anyone who has spent time in preparation (say, chopping and kneading and cleaning on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving), knows that the work is done to ensure that when the event arrives, the focus can be on the event itself.
In our case, the event is worship.
All the hours of preparation are toward one goal: to create an atmosphere conducive to encountering the Almighty. Many at Sharon Church have the same goal in their work: the Pastor Nominating Committee, for example, or those who prepare Communion, or arrange for liturgists, ushers, counters, flowers, and Sunday School teachers. Those who compile bulletins and announcements, write sermons, or provide food for fellowship. All in preparation for the quiet moments of prayer and reflection, surrounded by the family of Christ and Christ Himself.
We encourage everyone to prepare their hearts for meaningful worship, both for the short and long terms. Do the “Martha” work the Lord has called you to do now, so that you may do the “Mary” work of sitting at the Lord’s feet when He comes.
And we don’t know about shopping days, but we can tell everyone that there are 15 Sundays between Rally Day and Christmas!
Mark and Treva
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