HBC Service Redux: 23 January 2011

Here’s a recap of the service and the songs we chose this past weekend at Howick Baptist Church (You can find links to the set lists of this church and many other churches each week at theworshipcommunity.com). You can also read through previous HBC service recaps here.

Order of Service

(worship leader: William Chong)

Bible reading – Psalms 1 and 2. It was Chichi’s first time as the reader, and I enjoyed listening to his dulcet, melodious voice. Once you get accustomed to the African accent, his steady and soothing pace helped to bring the text alive. Before he came up for the reading, I had a go and trying to explain to the church a summarised “big idea” of these psalms (taken from my notes):

As Chichi comes up let’s set the scene. First we have a psalm, or song, that tells us there are only two ways to live: according to God’s way, the way the righteous, or our own way, the way of the wicked. The next psalm that flows on has a prophetic tone – it tells the future – and it gave the Israelites who sang it many years ago a glimpse of the LORD’s own Anointed King, as a reminder that God’s way of redemption is to one day bring a King to this world, to judge and to rule over it.

1. Crown Him With Many Crowns – Matthew Bridges, Godfrey Thring. Musically, we opted for a simplified Enfield/Resolved arrangement: first introduced at STAND 2010, the church sings it quite comfortably now, which is encouraging! There’s a fascinating story behind this hymn: six verses were penned in 1851 by Matthew Bridges, an eventual Roman Catholic. 20 years later, an Anglican clergyman Godfrey Thring didn’t like how Catholic some of the verses sounded and so wrote six different verses! Most hymnals today have a mix of verses from both these authors (perhaps an object lesson of God using trouble for His good a la Romans 8:28!) The imagery of “crowning him with many crowns” is taken straight from Rev 19:11-21, a passage very thematically similar to the description of the Messiah King in Psalm 2.

2. Glories of Calvary – Steve and Vikki Cook. I prefaced the singing of this song with the following:

‘He lives that death may die.’ Let’s continue to sing now of the glories of Calvary, which was the place 2000 years ago where all this happened.”

This was an example of a deliberate attempt on my part to be clearer in the terms I used when speaking, since observing this done well at YLC 2011, and when we visited St Johns Latimer earlier this month. I think many Christians wouldn’t know what the “Calvary” in “The Glories of Calvary” means! It’s an important lesson I want to learn and develop this year as a worship leader: that in an age where less and less people actually come to church with a knowledge of Christian vocabulary (eg. Calvary, Christ, sin, atonement, the Bible, God’s Word, blessing), briefly defining and explaining these terms would be a big help to those who don’t quite know what they mean. We shouldn’t assume everyone speaks Christianese – particularly those we’re trying to reach out to in our communities.

3. Shout to the Lord – Darlene Zschech. I didn’t plan this myself: as we were singing through the chorus, the words: “Power and majesty praise to the King!” really resonated in my mind, particularly in light of Chichi’s reading of Psalms 1 and 2 earlier. I often find great joy in seeing how these unexpected links between scripture and song appear in ways we as worship leaders never fully anticipate. One caveat with using the couple of Hillsong-related songs at HBC is that I generally seek to clarify any unclear phrasing – this is good practice with any worship song really, but I find myself doing this more with Hillsong ones that we do use (there are others where it’s too difficult to sing through without needing to clarify most of the lines!) One way I did it time around it was to note during prayer, for example, that “the promise I have in you” (last line of the chorus) is that as believers redeemed by Jesus’s atoning work on the cross, we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17a). I think doing this helps to prevent us from filling that definition gap ourselves apart from scripture (eg, what’s the promise?).

4. Psalm 62 – Aaron Keyes and Stuart Townend. The church have really learnt this song quite quickly since the first time we tried it: and the words are great, they come straight from Psalm 62.

5. Speak O Lord – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. In light of Peter starting a three-part series on 1 Tim 2:11-15 – a controversial text in today’s society, culture, and church environment – this song helped us all to focus on the purpose of God’s Word:

That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.

Sermon: 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Our senior pastor Peter Somervell got straight back into the 1 Timothy preaching series. This message was an overview of the issues that come along with the interpretation and application of this difficult text: should women be silent in church? Is Paul teaching salvation by childbearing? What does Adam and Eve have to do with women in church? Peter promised to explain all this and more over three messages. I’m thankful to be under the leadership of a pastor that’s not afraid to faithfully teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27)…. even the difficult ones!

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A couple of notable challenges in this service which needed an extra measure of God’s grace(!) to accomplish:

  • Due to the nature of the text Peter was teaching on, it was very difficult to think of how to choose songs that might fit with the theme of the passage. In instances like these, an important role the music can play is to simply proclaim the gospel through the songs we sing and what we say in between. So much of the song choices went that way. This article and the related comments offer some good discussion about whether our songs should harmonise with the sermon or not.
  • There was just *a lot* going on today!! In addition to what’s listed, we had a baby dedication, a members meeting, a time of announcements… we ended about 25 minutes later than usual! The music team had prepped a closing song but in hindsight, we could have almost taken out one of the songs in the middle set, to be more helpful in keeping the service punctual.
  • I’m still getting comments that my electroacoustic guitar still doesn’t come through the speakers at all… and my effects pedal is not really cooperating (causing lots of static and noise when plugged into the speaker system). I may have to go spend some money on a real pedal….

A busy service – but one full of wonder and mercy found from worshipping and praising the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!

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– William

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