I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Ours was spent in Boston, where I always feel like a small country mouse exploring the big city. This year the turkey was done sous vide (it was given a jacuzzi bath), then grilled. It was pretty tasty! I also went on a great and challenging run along the Charles River, which was very beautiful and very very cold.
In my last post, I mentioned some experiences that really shaped my philosophy in leading worship along the lines of reconciliation. In this post I want to expand on what I mean by reconciliation. I don’t want to assume that everybody uses the same language or definition when it comes to the word “reconciliation,” especially because it gets thrown around a lot.
When I got hired by my friend Chris Rice to lead worship at the Duke Center for Reconciliation, we had a good long prep talk for the Summer Institute. He had had come to learn through the previous Institutes that worship is the tangible content, the crucible, of reconciliation.
And then he sort of gave me a look that said, “So good luck with that, Angie.”
I pored over his and Emmanuel Ketongole’s book “Reconciling All Things.” I meditated and reflected on the CFR’s Word Made Flesh methodology, and wanted to share what it all boils down to. Here’s the theology of reconciliation, the short version:
- New Creation. God created the heavens and the earth, and through Jesus, there is new creation! This is the end of all roads through Jesus – everything restored, rebooted, refreshed. Everything as it should be. The current buzzword for this is shalom.
- Lament. New creation is here and now, but when we look all around us we realize that things are not as they should be. There’s suffering. There’s injustice. There’s so much sin swirling around us and in us. Jesus shed blood for all our ugliness. Our “new creation!” happy moment turns into lament. Since I’m a person that tends to avoid pain, this is a discipline that I’ve had to develop. Reading the Psalms really helps.
- Hope. Thankfully all is not lost. There are stories of miracles, of things getting better. Jesus rose from the dead! We see glimpses of the new creation and it gives us the courage to imagine God’s shalom world and our place in it, which leads us to…
- Leadership. Who are the future Abrahams? Moseses (or should I say Mosi)? Martin Luther King Jr.’s? Ruths? Mother Teresas? Hint hint: it’s YOU! What specific gifts do each of us have and need to develop to lead? This is a time of vision and discipline.
- Spirituality. What will keep us going in this really hard work? People joke that Chris Rice retreats more than the French army. I’ve seen him steal away for personal retreats and trips, and I admire that he’s developed this rhythm. I think mine is still forming, if I’m being honest.
We tend to be linear thinkers so I’ve listed everything in bullet points, but this cycle of reconciliation is more of a circular, zig zag, whirly whirl pattern. It’s definitely an adventure.
The really cool thing about this is that we are never alone in this journey. There are others that are running beside us. When I was running along the cold Charles River, I saw all kinds of people: people training for the Boston Marathon, people walking their dogs, people with cool gear, people in shorts (!!). We were all doing the same thing but differently, and the path was beautiful. This is how I feel in being a part of Menders, our worship band. We are all at different points in the journey with God, but we are all doing it together and through one another. As a result, community and deep connection have formed, and our work is centered around creating worship experiences as a result of that deep common journey.
I’m not going to lie – it’s a hard road. It’s messy and ugly. But this road is not an option. In fact, we are all in it whether you are aware of it or not. God calls all of us to it, and it’s full of hardships but amazing adventures. And what a privilege it is to experiment with how to express all of this through worship! Isn’t it great to be alive?
Blogging about these things is hopefully one step in the Spirituality process, and by sharing with you I hope we can run this race together!