Friday, August 01, 2008

Newsletter Article

This is an article that was just published in our church's newsletter. Thought I'd share it here since it is somewhat related to my thesis.

Let all the world in ev'ry corner sing,

My God and King.

The heav'ns are not too high,

His praise may thither flie:

The earth is not too low,

His praises there may grow.

Let all the world in ev'ry corner sing,

My God and King.

The church with psalms must shout,

No doore can keep them out:

But above all, the heart

Must bear the longest part.

Let all the world in ev'ry corner sing,

My God and King.

This is a poem by George Herbert titled Antiphon. It is part of the larger work by Herbert written in 1633, titled The Temple. I mention this poem because just a few days ago, I decided that it was the very text that I wanted painted on my office wall. The idea of having a scripture verse or some other inspirational text painted on my wall as a constant reminder of my focus and purpose here at WPC is intriguing to me. This text has long been a favorite of mine (in fact, I walked down the isle to marry my sweet Jack to Vaughan Williams’ setting), though I couldn’t quite put a finger on it as to why it spoke so deeply to me. Until last week.

As many of you know, I am currently deep in the mire and muck of writing my doctoral thesis. This process has forced me to think and rethink my task and purpose, both of the thesis specifically and of my calling in general. Thesis writing can sometimes drag you down and trick you into believing that it doesn’t matter or that your work is inconsequential. But then, words like these from George Herbert will come from seemingly nowhere and turn the light back on. Ok, so sometimes it’s the tiniest dot of light far in the distance, but light, nonetheless.

As I was working in my office, trying to reclaim it from a year of my disorganization, I realized that this was the text I wanted on my wall, especially the refrain and second verse. Why the second verse? Because my tiny dot of light is found in those words: The church with psalms must shout, no doore can keep them out: But above all, the heart must bear the longest part.

The first half of the verse speaks to the community. We, as a community known as the Body of Christ must shout out our psalms of praise, of thanksgiving, of confession, of lament, of glory to God. If we don’t praise God, the very rocks will cry out – and, in fact, they do! The Church with Psalms joins all creation in praising God. This is the very focus of my thesis – helping our church praise God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

The second half of the verse speaks to the individual heart. Each of us is created, loved and called by God, freed and forgiven by Jesus’ death and resurrection, and empowered to live in grace by the Holy Spirit. Our relationship with God is personal. O Lord, you have searched me and known me. Psalm 139. As we worship together as a community, we each must add our individual voices to the song.

Therefore, individually, each of us must cultivate our relationship with God. And, I believe God is calling each of us to be a part of the Church as it shouts out the Psalms! This is the essence of my calling here at WPC and the focus of my thesis – helping this church praise God with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

As we fly headlong into the busy fall, perhaps this poem will encourage you to consider both your personal relationship with Jesus, and your involvement in the life of this community of Christ. Take a quick glance through this publication, and you’ll be amazed at the many ways in which you can plug into the life of this family. Your heart will be strengthened and your relationship with Jesus will grow. Will you join with us as we shout our Psalms to God in worship, in bible studies, in small groups, in musical ensembles, in mission teams, and through leadership opportunities?

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