Fascinating worship session this morning.
I flew in last night, got in, and set up the Institute materials just as everyone was coming in for the evening session. The musicians at these events work like crazy, usually tolerating late night rehearsals, prolonged sets, multiple worship leaders with different demands.
So, late last night the main session prayer ministry time was ending, and gear was being re-set up for a late night rehearsal with me, the next worship leader, for the next morning. By 11:45 we were finished, with the expectation that we could be ready to rehearse at 8:15 for the morning set.
I chose a range of songs from across the life of the Church, including The Doxology (Thomas Ken, 1100s), a Prayer Of Welcoming The Holy Spirit from the Orthodox tradition, Our Father (Jesus – arr. Norm Strauss, I led this from hammered dulcimer – Mike O’Brien is one of my few fellow Vineyard worship leaders who leads from it), All Creatures Of Our God And King (Francis Of Assisi, 1225)All You Are (my own, from Paul’s writing and embedded with creational, non-dualistic theology) and I Looked Up (Alleluia, He Is Coming) (a Martha Butler spiritual).
We began with candles lit, and a beautiful acapella version of The Doxology filled the room. Harmonies intermingled, and a deep sense of the nearness of God intertwined our hearts together. We spoke the Prayer Of Welcoming The Holy Spirit together, and a further sweetness filled the room.
Then I began the Our Father on the hammered dulcimer, while string pads, mandolin noodles, a squeezebox and cymbal textures gave it rise. As it got big and full, the band began to rock it, and it was a blast. Then, right as the music was dying down into a melodic and tender moment…
Lights went out, the bands instruments died, and the PowerPoint disappeared. All that was left on were my vocal mic, acoustic guitar, the keyboard and the candles flickering at the front. I went into All Creatures Of Our God And King, and of course, in this contemporary worship crowd only about a quarter of the crowd knew the lyrics.
Everyone just kept singing from the place of self-offering that we had come to in such a uniquely corporate way, so I continued on, saying the lyrics as we went along. When we hit the Alleluia’s, we didn’t even remember that the electricity had failed. We went on, and on, and on.
From there, we did the rest of the songs, and 45 minutes into our time it was a rich time of celebrating the story through music and people devoted to turning their hearts Godward.
I like the band, and I like the benefits of technology. But I like the resonance of raw voices and acoustic instruments to remind us why we do this.