One of my greatest memories from my college years is the opportunity I had to sing with The Master's College Chorale. College choirs usually are very high quality, but in my humble (not at all biased) opinion, the Chorale outstrips them all. It was a very special experience for me. (I met my now-fiancee in the choir!) Ultimately, I felt so privileged to get to sing with 50+ of my friends, making beautiful music together week in and week out.
A while ago, Michael and Lisa Gungor (of the appropriately-named band Gungor) announced that they would be taking the music they wrote as Gungor in a different direction. That music would be more artistic, secular in nature. Their more overtly spiritual music would henceforth be released under the name of another band they created, called the Liturgists. When I heard this, I had the distinct impression that very soon I would be listening to the Liturgists a lot more than to Gungor. But then we didn't hear anything about the Liturgists for a long while. Soon I began to believe that the idea of the Liturgists was long dead, and stopped looking for any proof of their existence.
Then one day, about a month ago, I received a text from my roommate. He was listening to Spotify while at work and had found the Liturgists, and it was not pretty.
It's Christmas Day!! Such a wonderful time of the year to spend with friends and family, to share in gift-giving and remember the birth of Jesus Christ. There are a lot of Scripture passages that are used extensively during this time of year, but this morning I didn't land on any of those traditional passages. I opened my Bible up to the gospel of John, chapter 7, and here's why.
Back in the spring I was in California visiting friends and family. For a couple of the days I was visiting, I was in Orange County, and I got to have lunch with a friend at Chipotle one day. Since we were in California, we elected to sit outside where the weather was nice and the noise level was significantly lower. It was nice getting to catch up with this friend; I even began to tell her about my plans to propose to Shannon, my girlfriend. I was feeling really concerned at the time because I was living paycheck to paycheck and was not in good financial standing. As the conversation continued, a lady at a table nearby jumped into our conversation. She couldn't help overhearing what we were talking about and wanted to give me some advice: to not get married.
Last Sunday during Beacon's evening service, we discussed how different families have different traditions, during Christmas and throughout the year. Certain families in the church shared some of their traditions, and it got me thinking about the traditions my family has during the holidays. If you'll forgive the large amount of navel-gazing about to commence, I'd like to share some of those.
I have to be honest at the beginning of this post: I have not kept up to date very well with all the developments in Ferguson, Missouri. But I have been able to hear a lot about what has happened in the aftermath of the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown back in August. And pretty much all that I've heard has not been good.
(I wrote this last night before worship team rehearsal for Beacon of Hope. Not long after I wrote this, the rest of the worship team and I spent some time reflecting on God's faithfulness to each of us over the years. I hope in reading this you are encouraged as well with how great and faithful our God is.)
It's so crazy. Just over a year ago I was out here interviewing for a job at Beacon. And I can remember a night during that brief visit when Michael [Delahunt, my roommate] and I went over to the Somervilles' for a game night. It was really rainy all day, and the sun was setting as we were driving to their house. I can remember that night, right on the horizon, the clouds were breaking up a little bit and you could just make out the red sunset through the thick cloud cover. It is one of the most distinct memories I have from that visit last year.
There are a number of species of snakes that, while not inviting, are not venomous. The rattlesnake is most definitely not one of them. If you hear the classic sound of this viper's rattling tail, you know to get as far away as possible before becoming its next meal. The adult rattler always gives this little shake of the tail before striking. Maybe this is some sort of forewarning or maybe it just has such confidence that it can get you, that it will tell you it's coming. (Can you tell I'm not a fan of snakes?)
Today I want to bring you a word from an old voice. This quote comes from J.C. Ryle's book Old Paths, from the chapter regarding the state of our souls. (Note: For those who don't know, Ryle lived in 19th century England, so don't be confused by his reference to "our gracious Queen.")
My last word of application shall be an affectionate exhortation to every reader of this paper who has found out the value of his soul, and believed in Jesus Christ. That exhortation shall be short and simple. I beseech you to cleave to the Lord with all your heart, and to press towards the mark for the prize of your high calling.
A simple servant of the Master.