Those little God moments…

For the past 48 hours, I have been in Atlanta attending a conference called “The Singing Church,” sponsored by the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.  In these past 48 hours, I have sung more church music than I ever imagined possible, I have experienced more different types of liturgy than I imagined existed, and I have had a chance to listen to and meet some people whose books have guided my thoughts and my learning and my transformation over the past three years.

I have participated in five separate worship services, sung to guitar, piano, organ, drum, and hung (Korean string instrument that is a little like a cello); I’ve sung in English and Spanish and Ghanain and Swazi and Korean;  I’ve sung music from El Salvador and music from South Africa and music composed for worship by people standing in the room with me.  I have considered the weighty questions of just how do you create a joint musical experience between two worship groups of very different culture; I’ve considered just how do you preach about a Psalm and how do you plan music around that preaching;  and how do you pray a Psalm and work that prayer into the music and liturgy of your worship; and finally,  such questions as who should hold the authority to guide the creation of a music worship plan for an individual congregation.

In short, I have had the gift of two days to ponder the big questions of worship leadership and liturgy formation.  And I have learned and experienced more than I will possibly be able to process today or maybe even next week.

And, I was blessed with a God moment.

A God moment, for me, is one of those moments of awareness…when the beauty and strength of my relationship with God is totally undeniable and blots out everything else that is going on around me.  I have been known to also call this a Jesus moment and there may be, for me, a difference between the two feelings, but I couldn’t explain the difference right at this moment.  Usually, when I have a God moment, I sob — generally, I sob happy tears, but I do really sob.

And today, sob I did.

I’ve been to a couple of these music conferences now, and at both, the final event on the agenda was a full worship service, including music, sermon (or homily, if you prefer) and communion.  Yes, it I usually start sobbing during communion.  At the last conference, the words that set the waterworks in motion were from an African refrain translated by John Bell:

Come, bring your burdens to God,
Come, bring your burdens to God,
Come, bring your burdens to God,
For Jesus will never say no.

And today, it was this simple refrain, by someone I have not met, Leon Roberts:

Jesus is here right now.
Jesus is here;
With this bread and wine
His peace you’ll find,
Christ Jesus is here right now.

Simple words set to simple music, to be sure.  But the key to open the doors of my heart and soul nonetheless.

You see, I had just listened to a homily by the teacher who was the reason I came to Atlanta:  Dr. Don E. Saliers, an author you might have seen me write about before.  It was a homily about the power of music crafted on the text from Revelations 5:6-14, not exactly hard to do as it includes the text we now associate with the close of Handel’s Messiah:  “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain”…but masterfuly and joyfully done and and full of faith and hope.  You see, I got to experience first hand what I had suspected:  Dr. Saliers is a man in whom faith burns bright.

Sometimes, seeing that makes me sob for joy.  And today was one of those days.

So I will spend the rest of this afternoon savoring my God moment.   It will be a while before I feel verbal enough about the experience to really explain it…but for right now, feeling it is just enough to keep me going.  And for this, I give thanks.


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