Prayers for Choirs: No. 12

Prayers for Choirs: No. 12

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” - John 1:5 Have you ever noticed how much light comes from one tiny candle? No matter how dark the room may be, the soft glow of one small flame cannot be overcome.

It is radiant and bright and hopeful—a reminder of God’s promise to us and God’s presence with us. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)

Prayers for Choirs: No. 11

Prayers for Choirs: No. 11

It's not a church holiday, I know, but there's something inherently spiritual about the practicing of giving thanks. This week, many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving, a day we gather around the table; share our favorite food, stories, and traditions; and count our blessings. We'll reflect on God's good gifts in our lives: the gifts of health or healing, provision or guidance, good friends and neighbors, grace and freedom. We'll reminisce about years past - perhaps those who are no longer with us - and celebrate another year of love and life and laughter with loved ones, far and near.

How do we show our gratitude? How do make it a daily practice?

Prayers for Choirs: No. 10

Prayers for Choirs: No. 10

It's that time again.

The time when some of us start to feel a little anxious, a little unsettled. When everything feels like "us" vs. "them." When we sometimes feel like we're on opposing sides from people we call friends and neighbors. When it feels like we're more divided as a country and a community than ever.

It's election season, and this year, it's more polarizing than ever.

All you have to do is turn on the news, or scroll through Twitter or Facebook, or scan the headlines in the checkout aisle.

Some people get loud about their opinions, others get quiet. Some get angry, others feel uneasy, and many feel afraid. Some people put signs in their yards or stickers on their cars to let everyone know where they stand - constant visual reminders of the turmoil and conflict across our nation right now. Others keep their opinions to themselves to try to keep the peace with family, friends, and neighbors.

Prayers for Choirs: No. 9

Prayers for Choirs: No. 9

One of my favorite things about living in the Northeast is the change in seasons.

I love the white winter landscapes and the first shades of green in spring; the lush, green gardens and the fiery reds and golds of fall. Everything feels new, yet familiar at the same time.

There’s a certain rhythm to the change in seasons. Every few months, we yearn for change—a fresh start, something to wake up within us and come to life again.

But change is bittersweet. Because while we embrace the new season (scarves! apple cider! leaves!), we must leave behind the old. It's part of moving forward, moving on. It's part of growing, maturing, and learning. It's part of life

Prayers for Choirs: No. 8

Prayers for Choirs: No. 8

"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'" - Isaiah 6:8

It's a hymn many of us know by heart:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?I have heard you calling in the night.I will go, Lord, if you lead me.I will hold your people in my heart.

But what does it really mean to follow where God leads, to hold God's people in our hearts? What does it mean to respond to this Call on our lives?

Responding to the Call means reaching out before holding back. Giving before expecting to receive. Listening before speaking our mind. It means risking our own self-image, reputation, security, and comfort to help meet the needs of others. It means loving with the kind of love God shows us every day.

Prayers for Choirs: No. 7

Prayers for Choirs: No. 7

"O come, O King of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace."

It's a carol we sing during Advent, but we carry the words with us as a prayer throughout the year, especially in the midst of strife and war and heartache.

Deep down, we know that God is with us; but I think we forget, sometimes. It's easy to think of God as enthroned in the clouds above, watching over us instead of walking beside us. That if he were really here, on earth with us, that bad things wouldn't happen.

We're an imperfect people in need of a Savior. And there will always be light and darkness, love and hate in the world. The truth is God is with us, now to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). All we have to do is ask him to "come."

Come, be our help. Grant us peace. Heal our world. Come, save us.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Prayers for Choirs: No. 6

Prayers for Choirs: No. 6

Just when we thought we were healing, picking up the broken pieces and putting things back together, trusting one other and believing in our society, our nation once more, we find ourselves right back here again. Surrounded by chaos and conflict and confusion. Lost in the darkness of hatred and anger and prejudice and fear.

The mass shooting in Orlando last week is just one in a string of tragedies we've had to face as a nation. How do we respond? How do we lead? How do we pray?

In times of unspeakable tragedy and loss, times where it feels like hate is winning, and times when we feel afraid of what's to come, we pray for relief and redemption and grace.

For the hurting, grieving, and persecuted, we pray for comfort, peace, and security.

For the difficult conversations we're having as a nation and the challenging days ahead, we pray for guidance, wisdom, and justice.

When we don't know what to say or how to help, we pray that God would speak through us.

When it feels like God is silent, we pray for love and light and faith.

Let us pray.

How to Pray with Your Choir

How to Pray with Your Choir

Prayer is our way of communicating with God. It's a way to praise Him, ask for guidance, lift up our burdens, and rest in His promises. But, it's also a way to invite God into our midst. Matthew 18:20 says: "Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." This is the power of praying with others.

God calls us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), "seek His face always" (1 Chronicles 16:11), and "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Ephesians 6:18a).

Many choir directors open and/or close their rehearsals with a short prayer each week. This is an active way to invite God into the work we do and lift up specific joys and concerns shared by the group. Not only does this help focus the hearts and minds of those present on the meaning of what we do, I believe it also helps build community among choir members.

Coming together in prayer each week helps unite us and draw us closer to one another as we draw close to God.

Prayers for Choirs: No. 5

Prayers for Choirs: No. 5

Communion. For many congregations, communion is a long-standing tradition - something we celebrate on a quarterly, monthly, or weekly basis. It is a ritual, a practice, a way of remembering and honoring Christ's sacrifice for us: the body, broken; the blood, poured out. The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, the life everlasting.

But what if there's more to it than that? What if "do this in remembrance of me" goes beyond the bread and cup - if Jesus really meant "do as I do"?

In Interrupted, Jen Hatmaker noted remembrance comes from the word anamnesis, which means "to make real."

"Communion is more than a memory, more than a reverent moment when we recall Jesus' heroic sacrifice. Remembrance means honoring Jesus' mercy mission with tangible, physical action since it was a tangible, physical sacrifice." - Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted

In communion, we make Christ's sacrifice real again - we experience grace, we receive forgiveness, we are made whole. We live out the story of the Gospel. We become the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

Prayers for Choirs: No. 4

Prayers for Choirs: No. 4

I noticed it today for the first time.

The first buds on the dogwood, the first tiny green leaves on the bush near the fence. Spring is here.

There was something sacred about that moment. I stood, stick in hand, playing with the dog in the backyard. And those little green leaves made me stand still, made me take notice, made me look for signs of spring and newness and change and growth.

How long have they been there? I wondered.

How many times did I walk right past them, too absorbed in my own thoughts to take notice? What else have I been ignoring in my heart and life?

God is always at work in our lives. Are we taking notice? Are we looking for signs of growth and newness of life? Are we looking for those tender signs of spring in our own lives?