I haven’t blogged in a really long time. And I’m not coming out of the “blog fog” simply because I had a wonderful epiphany, or anything like that. I just felt like it was time to “come back.”
Two good friends offered to preach for me the two Sundays after Christmas, so I decided to take them up on their offer and finish out the calendar year with a stay-cation. On the first Sunday after Christmas…. (sounds like a song, but it’s not-I checked), I headed to Harbor. On the 2nd Sunday after Christmas….I headed to worship out East, the opposite direction of the Magi.
I rarely have the time to go see how the Lord is working outside our “own” four walls, so this was a fun opportunity. I was amazed by how well this church had “decorated” the school in which they met. The music team, at least for this Sunday was actually smaller than Harbors, which kind of surprised me-because the church seemed to have nearly twice the attendance. But it featured a keyboard, awesome bass player, guitar/vocalist, and a Cajon. We bought one of these sit on drums for Harbor a few years back but has yet to be used by our drumming purists (not for lack of my trying.) Pure drummers like to use drums. I get it.
It was a simple, non-liturgical, 3-4 songs, sermon, few closing songs and offering. Illustrative, loving, and challenging preacher, and the church has already assisted starting new churches! So cool to see the multiplication process.
But one thing I really had a hard time with was singing, though it had nothing to do with volume, musicians, lack of participation, song selection, singability, or anything like that.
All difficulty came from “my side of the table.” When you love your church, it can be hard to visit other churches, particularly those outside of your tradition.
I do think that was part of it. I missed Harbor. But I think a large part of my singing difficulty was the fact I was just grossly unfamiliar with the songs. I had never heard them before.
And as I stood there, I began to place myself (or rather had been placed) in the shoes of someone else completely unfamiliar with worship songs. Whether it be a visitor or long term attender, I really experienced first hand the difficulty of unfamiliarity.
I love incorporating new songs in worship. At one of the church’s I served, we didn’t have more than a new song or two for literally close to 2 years. The team wasn’t able to practice, but simply rehearsed on Sunday morning. There just wasn’t any time to learn new songs.
However, at least for this season at Harbor (despite 4 young talented musicians moving away) we are still blessed with a growing team, a time, and a place to practice. So I look forward to continuing to incorporate some new songs this year: (re-tuned hymnody as well as newer praise songs). However, instead of adding a plethora all at once, we’ll continue to add them slowly in order to get people familiar with them. This concept is nothing new, nor is it new to Harbor. This experience just reinforced the feeling of unfamiliar worship shoes. Sometimes familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. Sometimes familiarity enables us to more fully cherish our Lord through song.