Peace Like a River

Peace Like a River

Hi friends,

I know it’s been quiet in our little corner of the internet. I’ve been using most of my creative energy to compose meaningful worship opportunities for my church community and to work toward transitioning back into “the new abnormal” for our in-person activities. Kent and others have been swamped with their own transitions into digital teaching.

But, I am eager for the weeks and months to come. I just finished a lovely book by Baylor University Press that I’ll review shortly, with several other book reviews forthcoming. I know Kent intends to share a review of a volume about COVID-19. He shared a few quotes he was ruminating on. It’ll be of great interest to many.

In the meantime, here’s a video I made with some dear friends and congregants. As a celebration of the fruits of the Spirit, this song concluded our Pentecost worship. And, though I didn’t realize it when I chose the song, I want the song’s roots as an African American spiritual to make it a sign of solidarity with the black community’s ongoing work for justice. May God bless them, and may I learn to stand in solidarity with them more intentionally.

By the way, the arrangement is based on Josh Garrel’s rendition on his newest album, “Peace to All Who Enter Here.” It is an incredible album. Go listen to it here.

Peace, joy, and love to you!

Every blessing,
Zen

Music and Emotion in Worship

Jeremy Begbie is a joy to read. A Peculiar Orthodoxy is a thoughtfully compiled series of lectures and essays that Begbie had created over the span of a decade and wished to share with a wider readership. These essays deserve to be widely read. Yet, most laity and many undergraduate students would find the essays difficult and, perhaps, irrelevant. This is precisely why pastors and professors should engage with Begbie’s work, inviting their congregations and classrooms into conversations around the “peculiar orthodoxy” Begbie finds through the theology of the arts.

In the chapter “Faithful Feelings,” for example, Begbie addresses worship, music, and emotions. It can be difficult, as a pastor, to grasp the fullness of worship, the place of music in worship, and the role emotions should play in leading and participating in worship. Advent highlights this difficulty well. What is a pastor to do when many folks in the congregation think Advent is simply “Christmas preseason,” and feel frustrated when the pastor preaches lectionary texts that are not filled with the holly jolly sentimentalities? What is worship for, they might ask, if it is not meant solely to cover the harshness of life with warm fuzzy feelings? What has worship to do with actually addressing our complex emotional lives? Continue reading

When the Author Predicts Your Question

[This post is one of several on Ben Myers’s new book, The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism. Click here to order the book. Click here to read the other posts.

In an earlier post about this book, I asked a question similar to this: During congregational worship, is it better to confess “we believe” instead of “I believe” when reciting the creed? Ben Myers directly addresses that question in his final chapter. Continue reading