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Friday, June 18, 2010

National Worship Conference Albuquerque 2010

I'm writing this from the airport in Albuquerque and still have my mind swimming with both the good (at times great) and the not quite as good of the past few days attending the National Worship Leaders Conference.   First the good...some incredibly talented musical artists...Tommy Walker and Israel Houghton were incredible, inspiring and lots of fun.  Many of the workshops were very helpful in looking at the many different nuances of worship and brought forth a lot of questions in regards to the age old worship quandary...how to be faithful but also accessible to current culture.  The people too were great, lots of good conversations and I even meet a few other Lutherans who dared to venture into a predominantly Evangelical conference.   I find it good to attend conferences outside of my Lutheran Tradition.   It helps me gain perspective on other parts of the church and appreciate the gifts they bring.  

(There was one workshop--a small break out session with about 25 folks--which I think the sub theme could have been...how bad can we bash the mainline--Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians--say scandalous things about their pastors, and make sure we all know that the Holy Spirit never visits their churches)   I didn't walk out...just listened, tried to understand the critique, but I found it tired, untrue and uninformed).   But it brought up something that I have encountered every now and again in my career.  Folks from other traditions that have no understanding of the Lutheran church and thus make stereotypical and negative comments.

Here's a few things for the record:  And you can use them when you encounter someone who questions how you worship.

Altar Calls---we have one every week, it's called Holy Communion.  The people of God come forward to meet their Lord in the meal that he promised to be truly present in.  

Holy Communion:  It's Biblical!  It was a part of every worship service in the early church, the sharing of Bread and Wine.  Grape juice hadn't been invented yet, it was wine.  Jesus drank wine...deal with it.  Also Saint Paul tells us that he passed on what he had heard from Peter and the others, "In the night in which he was betrayed our Lord Jesus took the bread....."  These words of institution accompany the Holy Communion as a way to connect us to the earliest days of the church.  It's not optional.

It is our purpose to lift up CHRIST:   Hear this carefully, I love the Bible, I immerse myself in it every day, I take it seriously and see it as the source and norm of my life and faith...I do not worship the Bible.  The Bible is meant to point me to Christ.   You might have half the Bible...Oh, let's say the whole Bible memorized, and that will not, does not, can not save you.  You are not more saved if you worship with your hands in the air--or less saved if you do.   Our worship is to lift up the good news of God through Jesus Christ.     
Finally...The Holy Spirit is not synonymous with darkened rooms, mood lighting, and frenzied crowds.  Now, don't get me wrong, the Holy Spirit can certainly be there, but the Spirit can just as likely be present when 5 people receive mass at a little church in Prague, or when we grieve at a funeral, or when two friends hold hands in prayer, or when we think deeply about God's world.   More to follow....        

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