Wednesday Selah: Facedown by Matt Redman

By the time this post goes live, I will be wrapping up my service as a door holder at Passion 2018 in Washington, D.C.

I’ve lost track of how many times I have volunteered. I know for certain I was in Nashville at Passion 2006 and Atlanta in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Somewhere along the line after that I get a little confused about which ones I attended and which ones I missed. By looking at the albums, I finally figured out that I also volunteered in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017.

Yet, with all that time, there has never been a moment in worship that struck me quite as much as Passion 2007 in the lower level of the Georgia World Congress Center when Matt Redman led the students in the second venue in this song.

At the time, I had recently started seminary and was looking for direction in ministry. Through the messages of the week, I came to understand that I didn’t have to have a solid action plan. I needed only to trust in God, and to worship him.

Welcomed in to the courts of the King
I’ve been ushered in to Your presence
Lord, I stand on Your merciful ground
Yet with every step tread with reverence

Chorus
And I’ll fall facedown as
Your glory shines around
Yes, I’ll fall facedown as
Your glory shines around

Who is there in the heavens like You
And upon the earth, who’s Your equal
You are far above, You’re the highest of heights
We are bowing down to exalt You

Bridge
So let Your glory shine around
Let Your glory shine around
King of glory, here be found, King of glory

 

Wednesday Selah: Let Us Adore by Elevation Worship

Twinkling lights, cheery greetings and joyful parties often hide a truth about Christmas.

It can be a dark season for some, as the lyrics to Elevation Worship’s Let Us Adore remind us.

For the unclean, the unholy
For the broken, the unworthy ….

For the wounded, for the hurting
For the lost, and for the lonely ….

For the outcast, the defeated
For the weary, for the weakest ….

Ten years ago, our family had its darkest Christmas when my mother died unexpectedly just four days before what was her favorite holiday. As dark and difficult those days were, we had a hope and a light. It’s the light and hope that the song celebrates in its chorus.

You came, Jesus you came
O come all ye faithful
Bow before our Savior
Come let us adore
The one who came for us
Glory in the highest
Praise the name of Jesus
Our King has come

The presence of Christ doesn’t take away the sorrow of the hurting at Christmas, but it does give you the comfort and grace to make it through you know that the One who came as a baby in the manger is the One who suffered, died and rose again. And, he will come again as the One who will make all things new.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

(Revelation 21:3-5)

And that gives you the strength to celebrate anyway, to sing when the last thing you want to do is sing, to light a candle at the Christmas Eve service when you just want to be alone, and to give to others when you have little yourself.

This is what brings light to our dark world.

This is what honors and celebrates our Savior.

Wednesday Selah: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus by Meredith Andrews

What Israel anticipated has become our history – a history that is alive in Jesus Christ and awaiting another arrival. We wait in a different type of Advent, filled with anger, divisiveness, oppression, poverty, violence – all of which were present at the first Advent under Roman rule.

But then, as now, there were promises that brought hope. The Jewish people set their eyes on the prophecies of men like their great King David, and Isaiah, who spoke these words into the darkness of their times:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

And these words that promised a time of justice and righteousness:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

(Isaiah 9:6-7)

The light for which the Israelites hoped and prayed dawned in a Bethlehem stable.

Death could not extinguish the light. The crucifixion of Christ gave way to the glory of the resurrection, and the hope that lives today as we await His return in our own Advent season.

Meredith Andrews brings together the ancient Advent with our season of waiting today in her beautiful rendition of Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus. The added chorus of this song, featured in the graphic below, celebrates this more beautifully than I ever could.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Matt Maher

Let’s not move too quickly into the season. Advent is to be a time of anticipation, of waiting for the promised One. It’s easy to want to skip ahead to the celebration, but there is much to learn and to experience in the anticipation that makes the celebration all the more joyous when it comes.

That’s what I remember most about Christmas as a kid. The month of December passed so very slowly. It seemed the weeks would drag on from the time I watched Santa arrive at the mall until Christmas Eve. The anticipation continued to build day after day.

Now, I wish I could bring back those days. Now, any longing for the celebration of Christmas proper can get lost in the daily grind to which is added all the preparation for the holiday. Instead of anticipation, we’re burdened with a sense of time slipping through our fingers.

So, what do you do?

Simplify.

Paper plates instead of fancy place settings.

Old decorations that have been in the family for years instead of poring over Pinterest for the newest and brightest.

Limit time on social media for time in the Scriptures (particularly those prophesying the coming of the Messiah) and a good Advent devotional.

Take time for cookies and dinner and adventures with the family. The house cleaning can wait until January.

And above all, no matter how tired, how weary I get … rejoice! Help is on the way. Christ has come.


This is post in the ongoing Wednesday Selah series. After diving back into the work week on Monday and racing through all the tasks that Tuesday brings, let’s take a pause on Wednesday and lift up the name of the only One who matters – Jesus. Find out more about the word, selah, and its use in the Psalms here.

God is not dead nor doth he sleep (a #TBT post)

No one remembers – or is alive who remembers – if it was cold in New England on Christmas Day in 1863, but the country itself was in the cold grip of the Civil War. Long years of war had taken its toll on homes both Union and Confederate. This Christmas, sons were at war or imprisoned or dead or injured or ill.

Henry’s son, Charley, had been one of the injured and the ill, surviving both a bout of malaria and a bullet wound in the back.  A single father of five who lost his wife when her clothes accidentally caught fire a few years earlier, Henry had been heartbroken but resigned when Charley ran away to join the Union Army.

“I shall not send for him,” Henry wrote in his journal. “He is where he wants to be, in the midst of it all.”

Nonetheless, he crossed through army lines to reach to his son’s bedside when he  was wounded in late November 1863 and brought him home.

Henry may have recalled the pain not only of his own grief and concern, but also that of a nation when he penned his poem, Christmas Bells on that Christmas Day.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Henry was famed American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Years later, two stanzas were removed from his poem as it was set to music and became the carol we know as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

The carol first came to mind when evil walked into a shopping mall in Oregon, killing two people. It played loudly through my mind on Friday when evil walked into a Connecticut elementary school.

For some time, I was stuck on the line about hate being strong and mocking the song of peace on earth.

Then, I remembered the triumphant final stanza. God is not dead. He’s not sleeping. Wrong will fail. Right will prevail. There will be peace on earth.

Longfellow saw that. His son recovered from his wounds. A long-awaited peace finally came after years of war.

But he didn’t see it right away. He didn’t know it when he put pen to paper that Christmas morning.

We don’t see it either. We don’t know why things happen as they do. We just mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep.

And God’s not dead. He’s not sleeping.

In that we place our hope as Christmas comes.

 

These Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts are some of my favorites from previous blogs presented here with only the slightest editing. This post originally appeared on an older blog on December 20, 2012.

Wednesday Selah: The Thrill of Hope (Advent Hymn)

The season is upon us.

Stores have had their Christmas goods out for weeks now, competing with both Halloween candy and Thanksgiving decorations, but now the season begins in earnest. Some have already been battling crowds for Black Friday bargains, and others have been glued to the screen for online deals.

The calendar is filling with concerts, services at church, opportunities to serve at holiday events to help others, and all types of gatherings.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I want to take it slow this year. A little shopping here and there. Making cookies with the family. Planning our Christmas Eve dinner.

But I’m not going to allow myself to get overwhelmed with what the world tells me we need to do during the season.

I’m going to pull out a good Advent devotional, make a cup of tea each evening and remember why we celebrate. I want to settle into that place of anticipation that went before the coming of the Messiah and can live in our hearts again if we are willing to slow down.

The title song from Christy Nockels’ Christmas album is the perfect place to start the soundtrack for my season.

 

This is post in the ongoing Wednesday Selah series. After diving back into the work week on Monday and racing through all the tasks that Tuesday brings, let’s take a pause on Wednesday and lift up the name of the only One who matters – Jesus. Find out more about the word, selah, and its use in the Psalms here.

Wednesday Selah: Because of Your Love by Chris Quilala

 

When Chris Quilala released his solo album, Split the Sky, last year, this track became my instant favorite. The first lines of the chorus still pop randomly into my head from time to time:

Because of Your love
Hallelujah, I’m forgiven
The shadow has been lifted
You rescued me

Take a break from a busy Wednesday full of Thanksgiving preparations, and rest in this reminder of God’s immense love for us.

Wednesday Selah: Be Thou My Vision

I thought I’d continue doing my Wednesday Selah posts throughout October’s Write 31 Days project. Each one will feature a hymn written by a woman. I’m also choosing my favorite performances of the hymn by a woman.

I learned something new which lets me start with one of my absolute favorite hymns. Be Thou My Vision is an old Irish hymn, dating back to the eighth century, but two women brought it to modern audiences.

In 1905, Mary Byrne published a prose translation of the hymn. Seven years later, Eleanor Hull put the translation in verse form and published it in her Poem Book of the Gael.

Enjoy this beautiful performance of the ancient hymn by modern artist Audrey Assad.

Wednesday Selah: What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship

It’s been a long time since I posted one of my Wednesday Selah posts.

A quick refresher: Selah is a term in the Psalms that has commonly been translated as “pause.” I wrote more about it in the introductory post to the series.

I thought I would restart the series with a song that has meant a lot to me this year.

When I headed out to Passion 2017, I was thinking about my One Word for 2017. I had tried it a couple of other times, but nothing ever seemed to stick.

As Hillsong United led the college students in this song, it dawned on me that I didn’t need a word for 2017. I needed the Word for 2017. And with everything that has happened over this year, I keep coming back to the words of this song and how powerful the name of Jesus is.

 

Playlist || U2 performing One in 1992

Reviving an old blog feature with a bit of a change. Now, any song is fair game to add to my playlist.

When this post goes live, I will be on my way to Pittsburgh with my awesome niece, Janelle, to see U2 at Heinz Field. It’s part of The Joshua Tree Tour, and marks almost 25 full years since I had seen them in concert.

Today’s video is their performance of One at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. back then. It was the, and still is now, probably one of my favorite U2 song.