Posts Tagged reconciliation

Diverse Worship Matters

I deeply appreciate these videos created by InterVarsity’s video production crew, twentyonehundred . They have re-framed the conversation about worship styles to emphasis something that I’ve always believed – that worship should be diverse in style out of love and mutual submission  that looks a lot like sharing a meal together.

These clips could function as a good conversation starter for a team of musicians, pastors, youth leaders, etc who are exploring the idea of diverse worship. It’s also a breath of fresh air in a time when the church is having hard and painful conversations about race and ethnicity. Brothers and sisters in Christ do need to have hard conversations, but they need to happen in the context of relationships that are fueled by gospel-based hospitality.

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Come to #MusiCon15


simple_graphicNew City Music Conference 2015 is shaping up. We are getting registrations slowly but I fully expect 2/3 of the conference to register at the last minute. I’m so thrilled to have our line up of speakers and breakout leaders. It seems to get better and better every time we pull one of these together. If you haven’t done it yet, please check out the conference details and register at www.ncfmusic.com/conference/

Carrie Jones is the conference director this time. Carrie was involved in the 2011 conference we had here in St. Louis as the graphic designer and she created the conference notebook which was so full of information and resources that people wanted to get the notebook even though they couldn’t attend the conference. Carrie is also a long time member of NCF (@NCFStLouis) and as well as a highly qualified musician on our team.

The conference steering committee was made up of myself (@kirkwardmusic), my dad (@jcalvinward), and my long time friend, Michelle Higgins (@fast_foodie). We went out to lunch when my dad was here in March and hammered out the rough outline of who and what will be featured at this year’s conference.

I hope that you consider coming. If you are from the local region, we would love to meet you or connect again with you to be able to encourage each other in the struggle. If you are from out of town, we would to meet and connect as well and to hear what is going on in other communities. So much has happened in our nation this year that has served to break down our facades and to reveal the areas where we are divided and broken. The gospel has the power to heal communities when it is planted in soil that will let it thrive and produce fruit. Let’s live the gospel of reconciliation and justice that is available to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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To God Be The Glory: 11th Annual Black Heritage Celebration at New City Fellowship

Please join us for the 11th annual Black Heritage Celebration at New City Fellowship on Saturday, February 28, at 6:30.

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Our theme for the evening is “To God Be The Glory” based on the Andraé Crouch song, “My Tribute.” Crouch passed away last month and we will be performing a couple of his songs in the concert to celebrate God’s work through him as a composer and worship leader.

In our planning, we the musicians talked about the passage from John 9 about the man born blind who Jesus healed. The question was asked about why he was born that way and Jesus’s response was that this happened that the works of God would be displayed in him. So as we remember the heritage of African Americans, we might ask “why did so much evil and suffering have to happen in our nation?” and we can look to this blind man, his healing and his testimony to see that all people and cultures exist to display the works of God, for his glory alone. We remember the past works of God in Black community and culture because HIS glory is woven into their story for all to see, and we can all praise Him for the things He has done.

Please pray for our choir directors, Michelle Higgins and Noelle Becker who both have stomach flu running through their family this week. (Also, pray for my wife and the other spouses who have to care for the kids during extra rehearsals this week.)

Please pray for the unity and bond of peace from the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts of everyone involved.

Please pray for Thurman Williams, one of the pastors at Grace and Peace Fellowship who will be bringing a sermon.

Please pray for the long, slow healing process that our region is going through this year.

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Save the Date: August 9, 2014

SAVE THE DATE // August 9, 2014 in Saint Louis

Who: Worship musicians, leaders, and volunteers

What: resource exchange, training, praise, and fellowship

When: Saturday August 9 2014, Daytime workshops ($5 for participants) // Evening concert event open to the public

Why: worship teams from various churches don’t normally have the chance to gather in the same place to be participate in worship events rather than direct them. We will learn together, encourage each other, and share our experiences.

organized by New City Fellowship and South City Church
Contact: kirk@ncfstl.org // michelle@southcitychurch.com

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Prog-rock, the Coke ad, post-RJC14, and a iii-vi-ii-V worship tune for Black History Month

A few quick items from the last two weeks:

My buddy, Santo Garofalo, has successfully funded a recording project through kickstarter! Santo is the pastor of New City Fellowship in Atlantic City, and unlike most PCA pastors, he is also a face-melting shred guitarist. It’s encouraging to me to see a fellow cross-cultural, justice-minded brother get crowd-funded to produce a recording. I have songs to record, and I hope that it won’t be long before I can get a kickstarter campaign started for myself. Please pray that the Lord will make a way somehow for me to make another recording.

This commercial is good. America is hopefully a beautiful place to everyone who immigrates here from all over the world (and to those whose ancestry goes back to before English was ever spoken here.) As a music guy who leads some worship in non-English every weekend, I can relate to the joy expressed in this ad. I also recommend the interview clips with the ladies who sang the non-English portions for a little more context. As far as the racist and ethnocentric reactions to it, I say overcome evil with good, y’all. May justice and righteousness begin in the church. 

Our Reconciliation and Justice Conference was a lot of fun, especially playing and working with other musicians from our sister churches. I’m looking forward to seeing how God is going to build stronger bonds with some of these fellows musicians in STL. Ronnie Perry stayed in our home during the conference. Ronnie is part of a cross-cultural church plant in Durham, NC called Christ Central Church. It was nice to hear about the work there and to get to know him better. If you are in Durham, you should check out their ministry. 

Speaking of Durham, we are introducing a new (actually old) song by Durham’s native son, John P. Kee, this weekend called “I Do Worship.” This song is from a classic 1997 recording of The New Life Community Choir called “Strength”. Definitely check out this tune as well as “Lord, Help Me To Hold Out” and one of our church’s favorites “Clap Your Hands”. Jazz geeks: “I Do Worship” is like an etude for the iii-vi-ii-V progression. Here’s a link to where you can purchase sheet music.

 

 

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Though my fathe…

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. – Psalm 27:10

A few days ago, I posted a pic of my parents and my wife’s parents joining us for lunch. We are so thankful that we have been blessed with parents who fear the Lord and who also happen to all be friends from college. 

This verse contains a promise that even if our parents reject us or fail us, we have a loving Father who will receive us. This promise is for me, but it is also a challenge to the church that biological family ties are not as strong as the connection that we, who have been received by the Lord, have together. The orphan, whether they literally have lost both parents or if they are orphaned by the failures of their bio-family, is now given a place in the family of God.  

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More songs on ncfmusic.com

I had web master Rob Hatch in Chattanooga add a few more of my original tunes to the New City Music website. We offer songs on ncfmusic.com for the benefit of the church to share what we’ve learned or created in the pursuit of cross-cultural worship. Go check it out and make yourself at home.

Year of Jubilee

It’s a Charles Wesley hymn that I gave a new melody and added a chorus; you might know it as “Blow Ye the Trumpet Blow”. I was thinking that the song would work well in a more 1960’s style, civil rights era gospel-rock. I was thinking Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings or Aloe Blacc but the over-driven guitar sounds and my white boy vocals push it more toward something like Neil Young. Maybe one day, I’ll record it with horns and and soul-power guitar riffs to get the sound I heard in my head.  Regardless of the groove, my main goal was to get everyone shouting “FREEDOM!” at the top of their range.

The Lord’s Family

There’s not many songs out there about reconciliation and the ones that are out there can be so cheesy that they are barely palatable. I was aiming for a song about reconciliation that appeals to the gospel and the grand scheme of redemption instead of a touchy-feely, “can’t we all just get along” sentiment. We are an adopted family in Christ, and therefore, we are reconciled even if we are not living it out quite fully. The demo is an attempt at using garage band; it’s not my forte.

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Bonhoeffer on reconciliation

“To bear the burden of the other person means involvement with the created reality of the other, to accept and affirm it, and, in bearing with it, to break through to the point where we take joy in it.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Life Together,  page 101

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Vision Trumps Everything: Core Values Part 1

Last week, my church celebrated it’s 20th anniversary. We also had a day of staff training in which we reviewed the core values of the Kingdom of God which we have embraced as an institution. As one of our pastors, Mike Parker, is always saying, “Vision trumps everything; the rest is strategy”. This phrase means that our core values and then how those values get applied to the unique vision of each ministry can over-ride or trump any strategic decision that the ministry has made. For example, if I am committed to a vision of reconciliation with the poor, but  I make a blanket statement that everyone in the music ministry has to be able to read music, then I am letting a strategic choice trump the vision.

Briefly, I want to share with you the core values of the kingdom and then how I apply them to our music ministry.

Gospel Power – Sonship

Romans 8:15 – For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been given a new identity and freedom from sin and death.  We are once and for all time set free! As musicians, we are set free from the fear and shame that we’ve been loaded with by our past performance failures. We are also set free from the expectations of worship leaders to be sinless and holy-rollers. even from the “stage”, we can be honest about our sin because we are no longer “orphans”; we have been been full accepted.

Song examples: And Can It Be, In Christ Alone, Friend of God, Our Father , God Has Smiled on Me,

Reconciliation: The Bringing Together All People Under One Head – Jesus Christ

Ephesians 2: 13- 16 – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Through our adoption as sons and daughters, we now are one family of God. The sinful and oppressive lines of division that once existed between class, ethnicity, or culture have been erased in order that we made be restored to the beautifully diverse expression of God’s image-bearing humanity. As worship musicians, this unity is not invisible and theoretical, but living and active in the love expressed by sharing and learning music from the traditions of the saints in our community. The false dichotomy of “traditional vs. contemporary” music loses it’s meaning when we start to put the power of the gospel to reconcile us into practice.

Song examples: Jesus Shall Reign, Shout to the North, Jesus le Prince Glorieux, All Around,  I Need You To Survive

The Kingdom of God: Justice and Mercy

Micah 6:8 – He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

God has adopted us and reconciled us for a purpose: to demonstrate his love and power by acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. Caring for the marginalized and powerless is the obedient expression of our new life in Christ our King. As musicians, we have to place a priority on worship expressions that flow out of and then back into a daily life of justice and mercy. Worship services are not arranged to spiritually escape the world; instead we pray against injustice and we rejoice in God’s good works on the earth.

Song examples: O For a Thousand, Hosanna, I Give Myself Away, Fadhili Zake Ni ZA Milele, Hear the Call of the Kingdom

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Promises of God, Team Ministry: Functioning as the Body of Christ, Humility and Weakness, and Trials

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Watch this video

Watch this video.

Romans 5:1-10

5  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but werejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved byhis life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

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