Well, our senior pastor, Ross Strader, was back from vacation and he was ON FIRE!

We had a great roster of guys preaching the last four or five weeks. They’ve done a good job and I’ve enjoyed serving alongside them. It reminds me of the great depth of preaching skill at our church.

One of God’s great blessings to me is to walk beside men of integrity who love God’s Word and want to live it out every single day.

Here’s what we did.

Call To Worship
Since our first song had such a long, spacey intro, I wanted to read a large chunk of scripture. Now, folks are usually just starting to walk in on Song #1, but I didn’t care! I wanted the first thing to come from the stage to be God’s Word! We read 1 Chronicles 16:28-34. A long passage!
Ascribe to the LORD, O clans of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations,”The LORD reigns!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

For such a long text, it went great. The band did an awesome job of playing some cool improv stuff underneath before we kicked off the first song.

This is the strangest song…it just doesn’t feel that great to play, but our congregation does great on it. There are songs that you play “blind” and this is definitely one of them. I never can get a good read on the song, but folks seem to dig it.

We took a couple of chances with this one. First off, we used a click, which we normally do live. Why? I’ll tell you why – we wanted to use a cool keyboard patch that had an arpeggiated sequence that fit the groove of the song. However, we needed to use a click so that we could dial the keyboard in just right. Our organist made a couple of good suggestions to ensure that the keyboard stayed locked in in and our keyboardist, Karen, did a great job. We struggled in the first service on this tune…mostly my fault. But we corrected quickly and I don’t think it was THAT obvious. Then, in second service, we NAILED it. (Take that, Lincoln Brewster.)

Ross was back in full effect! It was fun to have back up in the morning welcome time! He proudly brought back the tradition of delivering jokes that no one laughed at. He read from I Peter 1 and reminded us that Sundays are about “rehearsing our story” – the plan God has for us – so that we can live out that story in a world with many competing stories. It was a strong encouragement.

We played the intro as people welcomed one another. Smitty went for his slide on the guitar riff and it fit the song so well. During the first service, our crowd was still talking by the time we hit the first chorus (which is soft.) During second service, I had the band just blast through it. It felt good and we didn’t have that energy drop. Overall, this tune felt a bit stronger in the second service. Not sure why.

I talked for just a bit about not singing songs like this lightly. That in realigning with our “story” that God’s writing, we confess, we realign with what God has for us. We did our normal intro to the next song.

I think we did good on the song. I’m just not sure. Here’s why…we’ve played it so much, we know it cold! Familiar songs can do that – be so familiar that they’re invisible. Not saying it’s a bad thing to know a song that well, but it is a challenge for me to be invested in a song that has crossed over into that “mechanical” feel. It’s a good challenge for me!

We haven’t done this MercyMe tune in forever and the congregation jumped on it. This song is so simple, but so well written. It was a good ending to a service reminding us that our meeting with God on Sunday changes us.

I usually pray “off-the-cuff” to seal our worship time, but I just fell in love with this COLLECT from the Book of Common Prayer for the 2nd Sunday of Advent. (Don’t hate on me for grabbing an Advent prayer!) Because our people are still pretty new to liturgy, I decided to paraphrase the prayer to make it feel a bit more natural right after we’d been singing. It’s a great prayer to prepare us for scripture!
“Lord, You’ve caused Scripture to be written for our learning; Help us to hear it, read it, learn it and ingest it.
“We pray that Your Word would help us today to hold fast to the hope we have in Jesus.”

Isn’t that a great prayer? You know what would have been awesome? If I hadn’t FORGOTTEN it during the first service. It wasn’t until we played our closing song that I realized it. I did it in the second service, and I liked praying something so concise and easy to add in to worship.

So…what did y’all do?


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