My dear family! When I ask for the sermon note-taking page from their copy of the worship guide (I never get my own copy; I always share.), they know what’s up. My daughter offers me a pen. My husband thoughtfully pulls a big, heavy hymnal from the rack in case I need something to bear down on. And, I’m off. Because something I’ve just experienced has triggered a response important enough to capture.
Sunday’s page-long scribble took a bit of effort to decipher and voice record three days later over my last two Fresh Market mini cinnamon rolls and Starbucks half-caf Americano. But, with the sun streaming in on the cafe-like high table where I can stand and work, in my current favorite deserted area of my workplace during that blessed pre-8:00 hour, was it in any way unpleasant to furrow my brow until I understood it was the word security I’d written on Sunday? Of course it wasn’t. #neverunderestimatethevalueofsetting
At the name of Jesus
The sanctuary choir’s anthem at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church on May 7 was “At the Name of Jesus” (Cindy Berry) – here is one rendition on Youtube, based on Philippians 2:5-11 about Jesus humbling himself and taking on the form of a servant and being obedient unto death, even death on the cross. Please go and read those verses aloud, all the way to verse 11. Oh, my goodness – the majesty of these truths so expressed!
Process. Not product. (But Christ above it all)
As the choir, musicians and worship leader (and composer Cindy Berry, wherever in the world she was) gave of themselves for my edification, I closed my eyes and expressed to my Christian brother in heaven, the apostle Paul, “Be joyful, Paul, over what glorious music this is, using the words you penned.” As a writer of thoughts, devotions, poetry, and fiction, I understand how gratifying it is to be told that someone has found “my” words moving. Yet, it actually is not the product – a hymn stanza, even a passage of the Bible – in which we revel as producer or as partaker. Even with a timeless novel like Pride and Prejudice, it isn’t the text itself that’s most remarkable. It is the process – first, in the life of the author (in a Christian context, God’s work in a believer’s mind and in his or her response, as a vessel, in capturing and attempting to express spiritual processes or insights); and second, when someone reads or hears and is moved, entertained, encouraged, inspired to emulate a book character (or a real person described in the Bible), bolstered to survive another day or another hour, led to do something courageous.
This process in the highest spiritual sense is what happens when a person engages words of scripture. That is why the Word is “living and active”* as the Holy Spirit acts.
The process is the thing. And yet we don’t worship the process, just as we don’t worship the product. We rejoice in it, yes. We celebrate its value by perpetuating it on social media through fan accounts like “looking for Mr. Darcy” and “all things Austen.” We facilitate the process of God’s voice and presence in our corporate worship and our small-group studies and our private prayer havens because we worship Christ and want others to have the security in Christ that we have.
So, let’s keep praying for the opportunity and the willingness to listen, not just to hear; to understand, not just to read; and to act, not just to feel inspired.
P.S. Here’s a fun (and weird) coincidence: My daughter showed me the script heading on the note-taking page you see pictured and whispered, “Do you know what font this is?” “Not sure. ‘Founding Fathers’?” (I thought it looked like Thomas Jefferson’s signature, a la the Declaration of Independence.) “I think it’s Jane Austen.” It is. #thetwilightzonethememusic