In Spirit And In Truth
~ John 4:21-24 ~

 

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true
worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth,
for they are the kind of worshiper the Father seeks."
(John 4:23)

 

  
I love this story for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the sheer boldness of the woman Jesus encounters. For starters, she has three strikes against her at the outset of this dialog. She's a woman - a second-class citizen in the view of many in the culture of the day. Then, she's a Samaritan - worse than a second-class citizen. No self-respecting Jewish man would be caught dead speaking with someone of that lineage. Finally, she's been married more than a couple of times, and the guy she's living with now hasn't even tied the knot with her.
 
    Jesus apparently knows all about her and she perceives Him as a prophet. Immediately she turns the discussion into one about worship; specifically one about stylistic differences and preferences. Sort of a precursor to our discussions today over the unfortunately-labeled wors hip wars. "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain," she says. "But you Jews worship in Jerusalem." (Sound familiar? We say stained glass, hymnals and a pipe organ; but you say theatre lighting, projected lyrics and a band.)
    Jesus cuts her off at the pass and enlightens her to the fact that worship isn't about location or atmosphere or accompaniment or architecture. It's not even about style. It is, however, about spirit and truth. It is about a passionate offering of ourselves to the God who had revealed Himself to us in His Son. And it's all about the God we seek desperately to know.

    A pastor friend of mine says that worship without spirit is dead orthodoxy. And worship without truth is shallow emotionalism. You have to have both.

    Ultimately, what the Father seeks is really none of the things we get hung up about. He's not seeking personalities or programs or song sets. He's seeking worshipers.
    That's me and that's you.
                                                                                                      - Excerpted from "In Spirit and In Truth"


ONLY A SILENT NIGHT

 

We love the Christmas story for two primary reasons.  First, it contains all the elements of a great adventure:  an intriguing plot line, a descriptive geographical setting, and engaging characters.  But mostly, we love the Christmas story because it's true.

In writing "Only a Silent Night," I drew from some words and phrases found in our most beloved carols of the season; carols that tell at least some part of this endearing narrative.  But what I hope sums it all up is the last chorus:

     "For only a Father of love and mercy
          Could make of our lives something glorious
               With only three words that could change the world:
                    God with us."

 

 

                                                                                                             

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JESUS GOD WITH US

And speaking of "God with us..."  I've loved the old English carol, Coventry Carol, for a long, long time.  Something about its haunting melody captivates me every time no matter the form, arrangement or instrumentation it takes.  

Here's a new setting with an original text, arranged for choir, piano and string quartet.  I tried to evoke, through these lyrics, some of the mystery of the incarnation, which is, after all....still a mystery.  A glorious, impossible mystery.

I hope you like it.

                                                                                                            

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PRAISE MY SOUL THE KING OF HEAVEN

Sometimes when we couple a familiar hymn text with a familiar hymn tune that's not always associated with it, the result is a new understanding and appreciation of both the message of the text and the power of the melody. That's what I've tried to accomplish in this anthem, PRAISE, MY SOUL, THE KING OF HEAVEN. 

You probably know the text from any one of a number of different hymn settings, but here I've coupled it
 with the tune, Ebenezer, gave it an energetic and driving feel, and even included a fairly active violin part for some extra color. I like the way this one turned out!

By the way, if you enjoyed CROWN HIM LORD OF ALL! from a few years back, you just might find this one to your liking. I really do try to not be too formulaic in my writing, but sometimes a concept is just too good to not explore again. Give it a listen; you'll see what I mean.