Rejoice Always

Advent3_Joy_blog

Third Sunday of Advent

Week of: December 17, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The Lord ... has sent me to bring good news ...
(Isaiah 61:1, CEB)

Rejoice always. ... Give thanks in every situation ...
(1 Thessalonians 5:16 & 18, CEB)

Devotion

It seems every day this year we have been inundated with news that creates fear and injustice, spreads rumors of war, and/or reports a new natural disaster.

In the midst of oppression, brokenness, and the prisons of our own minds, it can be difficult to seek joy. Yet, in Isaiah 61, God has promised to bring comfort, hope, and justice to this world through the promised Messiah.

We, who are caretakers of God’s people through our various worship arts, have the power to inspire people to be the hands and feet of the promised Savior. Take time during this week and season to be thankful for the gifts God has given you which serve as a vehicle of transformation and JOY in this world.

Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus, to give us JOY! Amen.

Amy YoungbloodThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
First United Methodist Church
Stuttgart, AR

 

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Advent Wilderness

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Second Sunday of Advent

Week of: December 10, 2017
Scripture: Mark 1:1-8

A voice shouting in the wilderness: "Prepare the way for the Lord …"
(Mark 1:3, CEB)

Devotion

When you truly think about it, John the Baptist is an amusing and intriguing character! He is clothed in camel’s hair held together with a leather belt. He eats only locusts and honey AND he is in the wilderness loudly shouting what some would perceive as crazy stuff.

The significant thing about John is he knew his place in God’s magnificent plan to save the world, and he played the part well. John knew his message and proclaimed it in a place away from the hierarchy of wealth and privilege. Yet, as a human being, it must have been a lonely existence for him.

We may also succumb to the traps of loneliness as we proclaim the message through sacred arts. At times we can feel apart from the world that rushes on without us. But remember the Christ Child comes to those set apart for God’s creative work so that God might be revealed to others.

Prayer

In the Advent wilderness of our lives, come, Lord Jesus, and deliver us into your LOVE. Amen.

Amy YoungbloodThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
First United Methodist Church
Stuttgart, AR

 

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Watch Out! Stay Alert!

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First Sunday of Advent

Week of: December 3, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-9

From ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any god but you who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 64:4, CEB)

Devotion

We live in a world where waiting is not popular. We can obtain any information or order anything we want and receive it the next day with just a click of a mouse or a touch on a screen. In his gospel, Mark tells us in 13:33 & 37 to “Watch out!” and “Stay alert!”

In our society, “watch out” and “stay alert” scream at us with an element of fear. Watch out for people who are different; “stay alert” and avoid unsafe areas. But Isaiah’s and Mark’s words were not meant to be of fear and competition, but a message of “Listen, God is about to do something grand!” Be on the lookout so you can participate in the joy!

We, as creators and leaders of worship, have the unique privilege and responsibility of leading God’s people away from the shouts of this wilderness world and into an Advent experience: an experience of “quiet waiting,” as we “watch out” and “stay alert” for the coming of the Christ Child.

Prayer

God of Advent, may we nurture your people and ourselves to wait with patience, be alert to your presence, and stay ready to spread the word of your coming to the entire world. Come, Lord Jesus, and give us HOPE. Amen.

Amy YoungbloodThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music Ministries
First United Methodist Church
Stuttgart, AR

 

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When Did We See You?

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Reign of Christ / Christ the King Sunday

Week of: November 26, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46

Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
(Matthew 25:37, NRSV)

Devotion

Ah, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats — there is so much to love about this passage! First, there is no mystery about what it looks like to be a "saved" people; the test and the answers are listed right here, plain for all to see! When you see someone in hunger, feed them! When you see someone in prison, don’t let them suffer in isolation; visit them, for God’s sake!

Secondly, the sheep don’t know they are sheep and the goats don’t know they are goats! Do you see it? We read this gospel lesson on Reign of Christ / Christ the King Sunday because it is Christ who is the head of God’s reign, Christ and not anyone else. And because Christ sits where he does, he sees the image of God in each person on earth.

Even though we can’t always see the image of God in others as quickly as Jesus does, we are still called to treat everyone as if they are Christ: it is not up to us to judge whether anyone is worthy of help, love, grace, justice, mercy and dignity! Our calling is to help those who need help. "Be Thou My Vision," indeed!

How are we, as worship artists, helping our people see that God is at work and already present in the lives of all people, not just the ones who come through the doors of our institutions? And, further, how do we serve as a bridge between the worship inside the walls of our institutions and our people’s worship outside of those walls?

Prayer

Jesus, on this Sunday when we celebrate the goodness, righteousness, and holy justice embodied in your reign, may the Spirit enable us to move beyond our preconceived ideas about our fellow humans and break open our hearts to their needs, so that we may alleviate suffering wherever we see it, just as Jesus did. Amen.

Joe StobaughThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Minister of Worship and Arts
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
Frisco, TX

 

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Grow!

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Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of: November 19, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30

For to all those who have, more will be given ...
(Matthew 25:29a NRSV)

Devotion

“For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”

YIKES! That doesn’t feel good, does it? But, what if … just what if, God has already innately given everyone what they need to thrive, and given it to them in abundance? If we are truly made in God’s image, and called supremely good by God — what if we have all we need to thrive and grow in the world already? What if we have already been given the conditions in which growth is possible?

Could it be that God intends for us to take the talents we’ve been given, in whatever measure we have them, and develop them for the further realization of God’s dream for us and for creation? And, as worship artists, are we not called to create the space for others' talents to be used, grown and multiplied? We are the ones who are called to help others develop their talents, so when that day comes, God will say to us and to those whom God has entrusted to us, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

Prayer

God, you have given us so much, all that we need, and for that we are deeply grateful. Help us to be the people who carve out space for the growth of the talents of others. Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Minister of Worship and Arts
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
Frisco, TX

 

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Be Ready!

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Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

Week of: November 12, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 25:1-13

And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came ...
(Matthew 25:10a, NRSV)

Devotion

The gospel blues song, “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” often springs to mind when I encounter this parable. Attributed by many scholars to Texas bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, his original recording paints a vibrant picture of this scripture! Indeed, we must be ready, for Jesus comes to us in surprising and unexpected ways.

In the month of November it is easy to get so wrapped up in preparations for Advent that we can miss out on what God is doing in the world right now. Even though we are busy looking to the future, Jesus continues to work in the world through us in the present. The Spirit continues to guide us in our worship artistry and God’s dreams for the world continue to be realized! Therefore, we must not neglect attending to the means of grace in our lives, lest we be too busy, or so sleepy, that we miss a holy visitation.

May we remain awake to welcome the bridegroom as we feed those who hunger, give water to those who thirst, clothe those who are naked, and visit those who are imprisoned.

Prayer

Jesus, we know that you are always amongst us and that your reign breaks out in the most surprising and sometimes scandalous ways. Help us be awake to your presence! Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Minister of Worship and Arts
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
Frisco, TX

 

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Finding Meaning

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All Saints' Sunday

Week of: November 5, 2017
Scripture: Revelation 7:9-17

... I looked, and there was a great multitude, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages ...
(Revelation 7:9, NRSV)

Devotion

All Saints’ Sunday provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on death, the afterlife, those who have gone before us, and the tenuous relationship between this life and the next. As worship artists we have a unique role in this regard, as we create space that allows for a fuller exploration of these universal themes. It’s an exploration that includes words, but also holds a mystery that transcends them.

My family (perhaps yours as well) has been touched by death in profound ways this year, especially in the loss of a patriarch in our family, my father-in-law. His was a “bigger than life" personality, and it is only in his passing that I understand that phrase in a fuller way. In the days following his passing I didn’t want to make art, but I felt compelled to do so: not to give understanding, but to find expression — and meaning. I found meaning in his life and in his death through art, especially in worship, as old forms of worship came alive to me in new ways.

Often we have no idea who our art in worship touches; but make no mistake, it does touch people in deep and profound ways. Through our art we can transcend the differences that constrain us — differences of tribes, and nations, and peoples, and language. Don’t hold back from giving this great gift to those around you in worship on this important day!

Prayer

God of all life, you made every person and called them not just good but supremely good. Help us remember that there is nothing, not even death, that can separate us from your love. Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Minister of Worship and Arts
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
Frisco, TX

 

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God-Pleasing Worship

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Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: October 29, 2017
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

… but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the Gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.
(1 Thessalonians 2:4, NRSV)

Devotion

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

The children of Action Ministries’ after-school program shone with pride and joy as they sang their hearts out as part of our church’s Christmas pageant. These children, many of whom were new to worship, radiated with excitement to offer their very best to God.

Disclaimer: This was not the most technically proficient singing I have ever heard. It was, however, some of the most beautiful.

Deep beauty lies in giving the best we can with the fullness of our bodies and souls. There is, of course, value in creating worship that “pleases mortals” – the kind of grand worship that aims to achieve artistic and technical brilliance. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t strive for excellence in all we do!

However, there is also value in reflecting on more than the aesthetic value of our worship. 

Sometimes the most pressing question is, “How does our worship please God?”

May we strive in our planning and our worship to please God as we offer our best gifts. 

Prayer

God of joy, enliven us with a desire to offer praise that is pleasing to you. Help us to bring our very best to the glory of your name. Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Minister of Music and Worship Arts
Grace United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA

 

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Nourishing Worship

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Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: October 22, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)

O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
(Psalm 96:1, NRSV)

Devotion

As a child, I was a picky eater. I stuck to a “cheese and anything that went with cheese” diet. Thankfully, I met someone who helped me broaden my culinary horizons, so now my plate takes on a lot more color.

What does your church’s worship arts palette look like? Is it full of different “spiritual foods?” I often think about the popular image of worship as a church potluck. While we will never like 100% of the items on the table, if everyone brings their best there’s sure to be something to please everyone. We should always have the opportunity to try that new hymn or way of praying that encourages us to discover God anew.

God can also sing new songs in familiar places. A standard liturgy or beloved doxology can provide the space to breathe in what God has to offer that day.

Whether it is a familiar rhythm of worship or trying a new hymn with an unfamiliar melody, we must always consider how we are nourishing our congregations.

Prayer

Creating God, cause new life to stir up in us so that we may sing a new song to you. Give us the courage to do a new thing or find the new in the old so that our worship of you includes a reflection of the ever-evolving world around us. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Minister of Music and Worship Arts
Grace United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA

 

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Don't Worry About It

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Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: October 15, 2017
Scripture: Philippians 4:1-9

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
(Philippians 4:6, NRSV)

Devotion

We’ve all heard those words spoken in a moment of trouble – “Don’t worry! Everything will work out.” Most of us have uttered these words, too, when unsure how to react to challenging situations in the lives of our loved ones. While we know these platitudes come from a place of empathy, we also know that anxiety and worry are hard feelings to overcome.

Tough though it may be, one of our responsibilities as worship artists is to aid others in bringing their own struggles and burdens to God through prayer. Through spoken word, song, dance, and visual arts, we can create environments of sanctuary and peace that orient the hearts of our congregants away from anxiety and toward the Holy One. Through our preparation for worship, we also bring our own concerns to God and turn them into liturgies, hymns, and prayers of thanksgiving in which our communities share.

It may not be possible to end our worrying altogether. But, through creativity, we can turn our worrying into heartfelt prayer.

Prayer

Providing God, give to us the peace of knowing your abiding presence in all that we do. Help us to calm the hearts and minds of those we meet so we may work to do your will. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Michael DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Minister of Music and Worship Arts
Grace United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA

 

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The 'Fruit' of Worship

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Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: October 8, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 21:33-46

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be ... given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
(Matthew 21:43, NRSV)

Devotion

If your Facebook feed looks anything like mine, you’ve seen “The Perfect Worship Service.” It’s a clever little meme featuring some frequent critiques of worship services. Does this sound familiar?

The Perfect Worship Service“More fast songs in the opening praise time and more slow songs in the opening praise time.” “More of those wonderful, lovely old hymns and less of those stupid, dead old hymns.” “Songs to be sung in higher and lower keys.”

It’s no secret that people have strong feelings about how worship “should be.” And, more often than not, the comments that we receive as leaders of worship center on the aesthetic. Our congregations want what they want – familiarity, beauty, quality.

All of these are perfectly legitimate, even admirable, desires. But worship quality does not exist for its own sake. Rather, when we strive to achieve aesthetic beauty or thematic coherence, we do so with the aim of orienting our congregations toward God. We strive to bear fruit.

The hard reality for worship leaders is that sometimes what we want to hear and what we need to hear are different. Let us ask not merely, “What will my congregation like?” but, “What does my congregation need in worship in order to bear fruit?”

Prayer

Nurturing and challenging God, give us the courage to offer you worship that produces the fruit of your kingdom. Amen.

Calissa DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Creative Worship Director
The Table Atlanta
Atlanta, GA

 

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Looking, But Not Seeing

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Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: October 1, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 21:23-32

For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
(Matthew 21:32, NRSV)

Devotion

Jesus knew the truth: we often experience talent, faith, and dedication in the places we least expect it.

Each week, I recruit liturgists to assist with worship leadership. I have a list – full of familiar, dependable people, from whom I know exactly what to expect. And, I am grateful for those talented and faithful servants. But, I rely too heavily on them. Too frequently, I turn to my list before inviting someone new to participate.

As congregational leaders, God charges us to be attentive to the people we serve. Too often, though, we become so comfortable with our routines that we miss opportunities to involve new people, discover hidden talents, and show love by entrusting others with the important work that is worship.

This week, take the time to get to know someone new in your congregation. How might they bring their gifts to worship? Who else might have gifts and talents to offer? Who are you not inviting?

You may find new life where you least expect it.

Prayer

God of surprises, make us bold to encounter you in new ways and in new faces. Give us a spirit of invitation that our worship may reflect the gifts of all who gather with us. Amen.

Calissa DautermanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Creative Worship Director
The Table Atlanta
Atlanta, GA

 

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Journeying

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Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: September 24, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.
(Psalm 105:1, NRSV)

Devotion

Psalm 105 is a hymn praising God’s faithfulness to Abraham and his descendants during their long period of journeying. This psalm begins with praise and thanksgiving to God, retells God’s wondrous deeds, and closes with a call to praise.

In 1 Chronicles 16, we learn that David appointed worship leaders and used a portion of this psalm as a model for worship. How privileged we are to be able to freely worship and to be able to lead others in worship. As we plan, rehearse, create, and put plans into action for our times of corporate worship, let’s remember to always give thanks, tell of God’s mighty deeds, and praise God!

Consider ...

  • Turning your “forgiveness” visual/bulletin board (from last week's devotion) into a “thanksgiving” visual. Encourage your members to move from forgiveness prayers to thanksgiving prayers for all that God has done.
  • Printing out verses 1-5 of Psalm 105. Lead each ensemble in a time of reflection at the end of your rehearsal. Dancers can improvise movements as the verses are read, visual artists can share what they “see” as they hear the verses, drama teams can set the scene and read them dramatically, singers can chant the text on one tone, and so on.

Prayer

Generous God, thank you for the many blessings we have been given. Like Israelites in the wilderness, we tend to complain. Please forgive us and strengthen us for your service so that we might live generous lives, making your deeds known among all people. Amen.

Shawn GingrichThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fellowship President
Director of Music Ministry
First United Methodist Church
Hershey, PA

 

Photo: Members of the dance ensemble interpret a Scripture reading during worship at Journey: Music & Worship Arts Week 2017, held at Lake Junaluska, NC. 

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Forgiveness

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Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: September 17, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35

Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times."
(Matthew 18:21-22, NRSV)

Devotion

Following his encounter with Peter, Jesus told a parable of the unforgiving debtor, in which forgiveness is extravagantly displayed. Jesus taught that God’s forgiveness is so far beyond our understanding and deserving, and he emphasized that we will only receive in exchange for what we have offered. When teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus said, "Forgive us our sin as we forgive those who sin against us" (Matthew 6:12). This part of the Lord's Prayer is echoed many times in Jesus’ teaching: forgive as God has forgiven you.

As worship leaders, we model many things and the point of this parable is one that must be applied in our congregations today. The giving and the receiving of forgiveness is crucial, because one cannot have it without doing it. Be intentional with forgiveness. "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15).

Consider ...

  • Asking a member of your dance team to come to your rehearsals this week to show a simple movement that embodies forgiveness. Incorporate that movement into your closing prayers and possibly also in worship as a part of the confession.
  • Asking a member of your visuals team to create a visual/bulletin board in your rehearsal space that will allow space for members to add their prayers for and of forgiveness.

Prayer

Forgiving God, we are humbled by the love and grace that you give us. Help us to forgive others as extravagantly as you have first forgiven us. Amen.

Shawn GingrichThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fellowship President
Director of Music Ministry
First United Methodist Church
Hershey, PA

 

Photo: Evening worship at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, AR, during Awaken 2017, The Fellowship's Biennial Convocation. Worship visuals crafted by Karla Kincannon.

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Artistic Worship

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Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: September 10, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 149

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful. ... Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
(Psalm 149:1, 3, NRSV)

Devotion

Psalm 149 is one of the many psalms reminding us of the importance of the arts in worship. God desires our worship and we are privileged to lead others closer to God through our gifts and talents.

Many times, in our Fellowship worship gatherings at biennial convocations and our annual Music & Worship Arts Week at Lake Junaluska, the dancing takes my breath away. Since I am the least accomplished in this area of worship arts, it is especially heartwarming for me. The multi-generational body at Lake Junaluska is particularly captivating as we experience the beauty of music and dance in a space that has been adorned with remarkable visuals. For now, the worship celebrations in these settings are the best glimpse we have into what heavenly worship will be in eternity. How fortunate we are as the body of Christ to gather for worship.

Consider ...

  • Leading your ensembles in a prayer that involves a simple movement at the close of your rehearsals.
  • Challenging your ensembles to share the sign language for praise and/or music every time you say/sing those words in a rehearsal or meeting. 

Prayer

Creating God, we praise you for the gifts you have given us. As we share them with others, please bless our efforts as worship leaders, so that we may create a foretaste of the eternal celebrations we will have someday in heaven. Amen.

Shawn GingrichThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fellowship President
Director of Music Ministry
First United Methodist Church
Hershey, PA

 

Photo: Members of the dance ensemble perform during a program at Music & Worship Arts Week 2017, held at Lake Junaluska, NC. 

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Holy Fire

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Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: September 3, 2017
Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15

There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.
(Exodus 3:2, NRSV)

Devotion

The burning flame is one of God's most frequently chosen forms of presence: Exodus 13:21, Deuteronomy 4:12, Exodus 19:18, and other Scriptures refer to God's presence in fire. Through fire, God reached one of the Bible's greatest leaders. Moses fled Egypt because he had killed an Egyptian master. He was shepherding in the desert not knowing what his future held and thinking he was alone. During this time Moses saw a bush burning but not being consumed. The great I AM became known to Moses through the flames, marking a turning point in his life.

God’s holy fire guided Moses and the people of Israel throughout their wilderness journey. It filled the tabernacle and later the temple of the Lord. That holy fire fell upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost and today it dwells in our hearts. I am reminded of God’s presence when the flame enters our worship space, knowing that surely God is with us. This is the most basic but perhaps the most powerful visual we have as worship artists. May the fire of God burn brightly in your life, today, and always!

Consider ...

  • Using the image of fire as your cover image for your smartphone, tablet, and computer this week to remind you that the fire of God burns brightly within you as you engage with technology in your work.
  • Inviting a member of your arts ministry to share their witness of a “holy turning point” in their life as your group’s closing devotion.

Prayer

Holy God, may we always be reminded of your love and grace by the light of flames. Help us to share the joy of your love with others in all that we say and do. Amen.

Shawn GingrichThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fellowship President
Director of Music Ministry
First United Methodist Church
Hershey, PA

 

Photo: Candles adorn an altar prior to evening worship at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, AR, during Awaken 2017, The Fellowship's Biennial Convocation. 

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Transform

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Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: August 27, 2017
Scripture: Romans 12:1-8

... a living sacrifice ...
(Romans 12:1, NRSV)

Devotion

John Thompson and Randy Scruggs’ familiar song text is this: “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”  **

These words, coupled with Paul’s thesis in Romans 12 – that belief should impact behavior – “prepare” us for divine transformation. 

The words in Romans 12 are some of the most important and strategic words penned in human history. They serve as a halftime address; a coach’s “chalk talk.” They are capable of leading God’s people toward a victorious life-journey. Long gone are the days of sacrificial lambs and burnt offerings. Instead, God asks for our "soma" (our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies; our entirety). Please do not let familiarity with these verses lead to passivity. Study them anew and afresh, for if you do, God will transform you from the inside out. 

Paul encourages us to live out our beliefs. We are encouraged to present ourselves and renew our minds in God. In the week ahead, find ways in your music, worship, and dramatic arts ministry to become living sacrifices – renewed and transformed vessels for God.

Prayer

Loving God, help our living to become transformed through faith in your Son Jesus and through your Word, and by the renewal of our minds. Give us the understanding of your Word which will guide our minds and hearts in become living reflections of you in your world. Amen.

** "Sanctuary," words and music by John Thompson and Randy Scruggs, © 1982, Whole Armor/Full Armor Music, admin. by The Kruger Organization. (From The Faith We Sing #2164)

Andrae AnthonyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music
Broadway United Methodist Church
Indianapolis, IN



Photo: Opening worship at Awaken 2017, The Fellowship's Biennial Convocation, included banners that adorned the balcony of Quapaw Quarter UMC in Little Rock, AR. 

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Reunited

August_Dance

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: August 20, 2017
Scripture: Genesis 45:1-15

.... God sent me before you to save lives.
(Genesis 45:5, CEB)

Devotion

Genesis 37 contains a dramatic story with a beloved son, Joseph, who was hated and kidnapped by his brothers. The brothers hated him so much they plotted to kill him, but instead sold him into slavery, which was probably a death sentence of its own. Joseph finds himself in a revengeful position: he comes to hold power, has charge of food for the community, and ultimately holds his brothers’ lives in his hands. Brought on by famine, an encounter and reunion gives Joseph the opportunity to reconcile with his brothers, embrace them, and forgive them.

Relationships are vital to life, which is why the two greatest commandments are based on relationships: a relationship first with God, then a relationship with one another. These relationships are paramount for a fulfilling life. Joseph lets his brothers know that while they meant to harm him, God meant to prosper him and use him to save lives. Joseph shows us the key to being reconciled to those who have deeply hurt us, whether they are family members or friends. This key to reconciliation is submitting ourselves to God’s boundless love and mercy. 

God seeks us and calls us to touch lives in need of refreshment, wholeness, hope and forgiveness. The healing gift of music, the transformative power of drama, the clarity of the spoken word, and the freeing dynamic of dance – each and every art becomes a vehicle for reconciliation. 

Prayer

Reconciling God, guide us, through our varied arts in worship, to offer hope, and to be reflections of your grace and forgiveness. Amen.

Andrae AnthonyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music
Broadway United Methodist Church
Indianapolis, IN



 Photo: Members of the dance ensemble perform at Music & Worship Arts Week 2017 at Lake Junaluska, NC. 

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Give Thanks

August_Song

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: August 13, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b

... let the hearts rejoice of all those seeking the Lord!
(Psalm 105:3b, CEB)

Devotion

The words of Henry Smith ring clear and true throughout Psalm 105, “Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One ….” **

As we reflect on the psalmist’s words, we draw strength from the repeated passages, “Sing to God; make praises to the Lord; dwell on all God’s wondrous works! Give praise to God’s Holy name.”

We are shown how God uses painful circumstances to bless the people of Israel. We see the difference between a life of hope and one of despair. The psalmist moves us beyond trials and tribulations, using those situations instead as a way to bless us, and those we encounter. In pursuing the Lord, we recall wonderful things, marvelous works, and justice declared. 

God often changes our perspective and gives us new ways of seeing our situations. Our setbacks and disappointments are opportunities for God to renew, restore, and bless us. It is through these new “eyes” we join the refrain, “now let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us. Give thanks.”

How will you give thanks this week for the many ways you have been gifted to lead the worship artists in your congregation? “Sing to God; make praises to the Lord; dwell on all God’s wondrous works! Give praise to God’s Holy name.”

Prayer

Loving God, open our eyes and minds and hearts to sense and feel your presence in and around us. May your Holy Spirit guide us to turn our seasons of frustrations and challenges into days of hopefulness and seasons of thanksgiving. Amen.

** "Give Thanks," words and music by Henry Smith, © 1978, Integrity's Hosanna Music. (From The Faith We Sing #2036)

Andrae AnthonyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music
Broadway United Methodist Church
Indianapolis, IN



Photo: Kevin McBeth (center) leads a choir rehearsal at Awaken 2017, The Fellowship's Biennial Convocation, held in Little Rock, AR, last month.

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Embrace the Abundance

August_Table

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of: August 6, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 14:13-21

... you give them something to eat.
(Matthew 14:16b, NRSV)

Devotion

During this season of Pentecost, we may find ourselves much like Jesus – at a table of physical and emotional exhaustion. However, it is at this table that Jesus shows compassion, heals the sick, and provides an endless banquet. We are confronted in scripture with the stories of God’s providential nature. It is in this account of feeding the 5,000+ that we truly learn the immeasurable abundance that surrounds us.

Where the disciples use a theology of scarcity, Jesus uses a theology of abundance. The disciples see only what they don’t have and what they’re incapable of doing. Jesus sees the resources they possess and their possibilities. Christ calls us to bring forth what we have, no matter how little, and assures us that God will do the rest!

Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, not to send them away. He invites us to be compassionate, resourceful, and generous in our ministry. We must never be so wrapped in our own problems and concerns that we withdraw from the world and refuse to provide help to those in need.

In practicing a theology of abundance, we open our eyes to the resources around us. We discover the ways in which we are the hands and feet of Jesus. As you consider your worship arts ministry this fall, will you open your eyes to the abundance of gifts and talents that are within those in your congregation? Will you trust in God to partner with you to create an abundant and generous ministry that shares God’s love through music and other worship arts this season?

Prayer

Open our eyes to see the abundance that surrounds us, open our hands that we may freely give, and open our hearts to show compassion. May this love and unbounded compassion be bread for a hungry world. Amen.

Andrae AnthonyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Music
Broadway United Methodist Church
Indianapolis, IN



Photo: Carrie Wright (center) and Bodie Gilbert (right) serve communion around a table during the closing worship service of Awaken 2017, The Fellowship's Biennial Convocation, held at First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, AR, on July 27.

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