Worship, especially worship through music, is a very unexpected but surprisingly wonderful calling I’m deeply passionate about. I’m the type of person that likes to have everything planned and carried out with ambition. My path was set: I wanted to run a successful music therapy practice that would change the world through best practices and research. Although the work was good, God had another plan. After a potential move to a foreign country fell through followed by my first pregnancy, I started to learn the art of surrendering my ambitious plan. I got a random invitation to lead worship for a conference at Duke Divinity School, which didn’t make any sense because I was a full-time stay-at-home mom at the time. I took the challenge, and it grew into a calling to curate and craft worship experiences along the themes of reconciliation. Oddly enough, facilitating a music therapy session and leading worship are actually very similar. Talk about a Divine plan!
I mentioned in my last post that God has been opening doors for me, specific opportunities in the area of leading and thinking about worship. Because I never know where the next opportunity may come from, I am truly grateful whenever I am entrusted to create these kind of sacred spaces. I realize it is serious business to create atmospheres where people across the Kingdom come together in the hopes of experiencing and encountering the presence of God.
I am also finding that more than ever the practice of worship leading has got my brain spinning at a feverish level. That is some of the motivation of why I want to start taking my blog more seriously. I am excited to both share these ideas with you, and to hear your ideas and feedback as well. Since there is a necessary get-to-know you process that comes with something like this, let me share a few of the environments that I have the privilege of helping to shape, but that probably are mostly shaping me:
- Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation – I was asked to lead worship at the annual Summer Institute for Reconciliation in 2011 and every year since then. The 6-day institute dedicates one entire day to the rhythm or cycle of reconciliation with God and each other in an ecumenical setting. Can you imagine worshiping God for an entire day from a place of lament? This was the beginning of my path to exploring reconciliation expressed and experienced through worship, which I’ll write about in my next post!
- Menders, a band exploring reconciliation and worship- In leading worship for the Summer Institute, I quickly realized that I alone would not be able to honor the many traditions and cultures that were present. I quickly enlisted the help of my friends and some friends of friends. That began a journey into exploring worship and reconciliation together in community as a band. We started getting hired to lead worship at different conferences and events, and through our common work we were able to imagine what reconciliation expressed through worship could look like. Did I mention that I’ll address this in my next post??
- CityWell church- I just got hired a few months ago to apply all of these concepts of worship and reconciliation into a weekly Sunday rhythm at CityWell. We are a fairly new church plant, four years, and it’s a fragile but beautiful community. I’m in the process of taking the time to fully listen to the many different voices of our body as I enter in. It’s been really challenging, especially if and when the voices happen to be in opposition to one another, but also an opportunity to live and flourish in the tension. Decisions and group processes take longer in a multiethnic church, so a listening posture is essential. At times it drives me absolutely crazy because I tend to be a person of action, but this has been a great discipline for me to grow in. I also simultaneously started a worship internship, and I love our interns! Can’t wait to share more about that.
- Christian Community Development Association – I’m always encouraged when I get invited to a conference or a group that deeply engages with this worship + reconciliation dynamic, beyond just thinking of it as a musical buffet. CCDA is a prime example of an organization that I really respect, and this year I had the great privilege of being on the worship team for their annual conference. I received three affirmations of calling: first, as a leader and musician in bringing my gifts to the worship team; second, as a speaker and content provider in presenting a workshop on building community through worship and reconciliation with Menders; and third, as an Asian-American Christian woman exploring the fullness of my God-given identity and voice. On top of all of that, the conference was in my home town! Well, in Raleigh, which is NOT Durham, but close enough. The conference really spoke to the Holy Spirit’s work in my community and I’ve slowly been seeing the fruits of it.
In my next post I’m going to talk about Reconciliation, and how I will be tying it into worship. Thanks for reading!