A sermon on Luke 4:1-13
Preached Sunday, March 6, 2022
Almost 13 years ago (!) I started this blog, with the tagline “helping worship leaders lead well”. My ministry responsibilities at that time were mostly in the realm of worship and music, and so I enjoyed the opportunity to blog a few times a week on topics that might be helpful for other worship leaders
In mid-2014, I was called to a new ministry position at my current church. As my workload increased, my blogging decreased. I still tried to write on worship/music related topics when I could.
Over the last several years, my ministry responsibilities have shifted more broadly, and while they still include worship and music (and that will always be a major part of my heart and passion), I’m more and more involved in the broader areas of being a pastor (i.e. pastoral care, counseling, preaching, etc.). I’m also now an ordained priest (i.e. pastor) in the Anglican Church in North America, and so my journey more into different realms of church ministry continues.
All of that is to say that I’ve decided it’s time to transition this blog into something more than just for worship leaders. So I’ve made a change to the tagline. It’s now: “Exalting Jesus in His Church and Through His Word“. We can do that in so many ways, and in so many realms of ministry, and that’s how I’d like to lend my voice when I can.
All of my old (mostly worship leading-centric) posts are still here, and available for you to peruse by using the “categories” or “search” functions. And I’m sure I will keep posting content for worship leaders from time to time.
But from now on, this blog will likely serve as a place where I’ll share what I’ve been preaching, what I’ve been writing, and what God has been teaching me as I continue to serve the Church however he calls me.
I’ll close for now with this video from my church, of one of my favorite songs, recorded from back in the days of lockdowns and quarantines. May this truth be always on our lips: “Now and ever we confess: Christ our hope in life and death!”
I recently wrote a new setting of the Lord’s Prayer, and we’ve been singing it the last couple of weeks at my church. Here’s a video with me singing it (and sharing the melody line). Below the video are links to the lead sheet, chord chart, choir arrangement, violin 1 and 2 parts, and a flute part. I hope this is helpful to you!
(Special thanks to my friend Zach Sprowls for these arrangements)
Last year, I was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church of North America. I first sensed the call to ordained ministry in my teens and 20’s, but was reluctant to say “yes” to the Lord. Long story short: God eventually got my attention! I said “yes”, and was honored to be ordained in 2021.
There’s an ancient prayer and hymn of the church called “Veni Creator Spiritus” (or “Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire”). You’ll often hear this hymn in liturgical churches on or around Pentecost. And in the Anglican tradition, it’s also sung in an ordination service for a priest.
For my ordination service, my friend Zach Sprowls and I wrote a new arrangement for this ancient text. I took the first stab at it, then Zach improved it, and made it much less boring! Zach also then arranged it for a string quartet. I was delighted to have another good friend of mine, Jordan Ware, sing it in the service.
The lyric video is below, as well as the orchestration (score, lead sheet, piano chart, and string parts). If this would be useful for you and/or your church, then please feel free to use it!
After a seven-month-long absence of any kind of new posts on this blog (it’s been a little crazy… anyone else?), I wanted to dust things off around here with a quick word about rejoicing. Because, for most of us, when we think back over the last seven months, perhaps the LAST word that would come to mind is “rejoice”.
If you’re a worship leader and you’re reading this (or involved in ANY kind of church ministry), this has been the hardest, weirdest, longest year yet. And it’s not over yet!
And yet we have the Apostle Paul to thank for this exhortation, to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
So how can a person rejoice, when all around that person are reasons not to rejoice?
When things are truly hard. When circumstances are truly difficult. When everything around you has been shaken. When everything in your daily life has been shaken. When everything in your church has been shaken.
How can we rejoice – and not only that – but rejoice always – in the face of such difficulties? To “rejoice in the Lord always…”
Therein lies the challenge. And therein lies the secret to it all.
The challenge is to rejoice. The secret to it all? Three words: In. The. Lord.
Yes, everything around you, and everything in your daily life, and everything in your church has been shaken. Yes, things are truly difficult. And we feel all that we’ve lost, and all of the upheaval, and all of the waiting. And we grieve and lament the sadness of it all.
But for those who belong to Jesus: Those who know that they know that they know that he is Lord over all, then even in the face of brokenness and darkness and sadness – maybe even especially in the face of those things – we are called to rejoice in the Lord.
This is a subtle distinction that really has the power to change your daily life during these difficult days. To give you the countenance, and the confidence, and the persistent joy of a man or a woman anchored to something unchangeable in the midst of constant change.
No matter the circumstance, no matter the loss, no matter the pandemic, no matter the brokenness, no matter what, we are secure in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Quick reminder, that as Paul wrote those verses, he was writing them from prison! We should listen up when someone writes us from prison and tells us to rejoice. And he was rejoicing! That the Gospel was advancing, that for him, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
He demonstrates that, when we are secure in Jesus Christ, then we can rejoice through the darkness. We can worship through the despair. We can praise through the sadness.
I love how Andrew Peterson puts it in his song “Rejoice”:
And when the peace turns to danger
The nights are longer than days
And every friend has a stranger’s face
Then deep within the dungeon cell
You have to make a choice
Be still and know that the Father
Will hasten down from His throne
He will rejoice over you with song
So set your face against the night
And raise your broken voice
And again I say
And again I say rejoice
May we continue to rejoice our way through 2020, whatever else it may bring. We are secure in the Lord. And so we rejoice in him.