Remembering What It’s Like To Worship

There’s a bible verse from the ever popular prophet Joel which I turn to sometimes when I have sorrow over things I had lost. It says:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten . . . ” Joel 2:25

I have long believed that there is nothing I can lose that God will not return to me with interest. And that when it was returned to me, I would know it more truly and more deeply for having to do without it. Which may or may not actually be true, but I choose to believe it because life is better when I believe it than when I don’t. It helped me let go a little more gracefully, as I knew that I would receive it back in time. Sometimes it was cold comfort, but this verse gave me hope that life would eventually get better when I needed something to remind me.

Over the last month, I’ve started having the oddest sensation of being given back my good memories. It’s as if I’d completely forgotten that I really had been happy once. It wasn’t just something I told myself when I needed to shore up my confidence. I really was very happy once. I really did have a happy family once. I really did have an amazing marriage once. I really did have a good, although never perfect or easy, life once.

It’s like I’m coming out of this place where only the darkness existed and emerging back into the light. I can’t quite trust any of it and none of it makes much difference to my present circumstances, but it’s rather wonderful to be rediscovering the things that made my life good. It’s been like coming home and finding a box full of old pictures that had been lost in a move years ago.

One of the things I had lost was music. I wrote a post a while ago about realizing that I had forgotten how to sing nearly every song I knew a couple of years ago. The only songs I could remember were songs about God that I had learned while doing prison ministry. I would be singing my baby daughter to sleep and all I could remember were the same 4 or 5 songs attached to a time I would just as soon forget. Sometimes I choked on the words.

Eventually my daughter no longer needed to be sung to sleep and I stopped singing altogether. Which is something I’d done before, as you will remember if you have read my first book like a good little Upside Down World minion. 😉 But there’s a reason that shamans will ask the sick and depressed, “when did you stop singing?” Sickness of the heart and a lack of music go hand in hand.

So, for whatever reason, lately I’ve been rediscovering songs that I used to love that I had nearly forgotten. Yesterday, I happened to hear the song Gloria by the Christian duo Watermark and I remembered what it was like to worship. My heart used to sing this song, once upon a time. (My mouth has a harder time.)

A while back, I started a post by saying that one day I want to be able to write a post that’s all “God is great! He healed my wounds and lifted me from the pit!” But I gave up lying a while back. So, this isn’t that post yet. But I finally remember what it is like to be able to do that. And it is so good. Enjoy!

Gloria

I wish I could crash like the waves
Or turn like the autumn leaves
In effort to praise You
I wish I could smell like the forest
The fragrance lifting a mighty chorus
In effort to praise You, in effort to praise You

But I’m such a limited creature
And my words can only paint so many pictures
But somewhere I think I read that I am
Treasured over all creation
So I know that I must try

I wish I could roll like the thunder
To leave the earth below in wonder
In effort to praise You
I wish I could fall like the summer rain
And every drop would sing Your name
In effort to praise You, in effort to praise You

But I’m such a limited creature
And my words can only paint so many pictures
But somewhere I’m sure I read that I am
Treasured over all creation
So I know that I must try, I must try

Gloria, glory in the highest
Forever I will hide myself in Thee
Gloria, glory in the highest
Forever I will hide myself in Thee

Every breath that I breathe
Every moment in my history
Is an effort to praise You
An effort to praise You

Gloria, glory in the highest
Forever I will hide myself in Thee
Oh, Gloria
Glory in Excelsis Deo
Gloria, Gloria
Gloria
Gloria, Gloria, Gloria

-L & C Nockles

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The Emerging Church Promise and Failure Part 2

In my last post, I looked at how the emerging church movement is trying to re-construct Christianity in regards to praxis, or the living of a Christian life. Today I’m going to look at the emerging church’s approach to doxology.

Part 2: Doxology or “Doing” Church”

To start, I want to acknowledge that I’m using the word “Doxology” in an unorthodox way. Technically doxology refers to a statement of praise and glory to God. The two we are most familiar with are “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen” and the commonly sung:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

For my purposes, I am using the word doxology in the sense which Geoffrey Wainwright expresses it in the title to his 1978 book: Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine and Life. Doxology is how we live out our theological belief in Christianity when we gather and worship, pray and meditate and then take that experience out into the world we live in. J.I. Packer in his book God Has Spoken (which I haven’t actually read, for the record) puts it this way:

“Theology, as I constantly tell my students, is for doxology: the first thing to do with it is to turn it into praise and thus honor the God who is its subject, the God in whose presence and by whose help it was worked out. Paul’s summons to sing and make music in one’s heart to the Lord is a word for theologians no less than for other people (Ephesians 5:19). Theologies that cannot be sung (or prayed for that matter) are certainly wrong at a deep level, and such theologies leave me, in both senses, cold: cold-hearted and uninterested.”

So for this discussion I am using the word doxology to indicate those ways that we as Christians practice our faith when we worship, gather together for church, meditate, read scripture or engage in other spiritual disciplines.

One of the features of Protestantism is that it is reactionary in nature. Continue reading