Tag Archives: worship

Donning a Garment of Praise

I am on worship team today.

I have said it before and will hold fast to it still, it’s always the team that God has ordained for that week.

Life is full. So very full.

I sat out of a complete two-month team rotation due to our family’s fall transition and the need to be present for them and not over-extended. Singing on worship team is a life-giving love of mine, but it can’t be at the expense of my family’s well-being. That’s not love.

This cycle offered one Sunday open. Singing on team requires the commitment of a Wednesday night practice and an all-morning Sunday presence, beginning at 7am. I have to look closely at my weeks and schedule and see what I can commit to with integrity.

Thanksgiving is coming up and Christmas. This year my entire extended family of origin will be in town for Christmas. Fourth Sunday is walker nursery. That’s always out. Stephen Ministry is two Tuesdays a month. It’s difficult to do both in the same week. All of these factors added up to one possible Sunday that I could be on team. I knew it wasn’t guaranteed, but I sent that date in anyway.

That is one of many things that I LOVE about our worship team. We are available and willing but not indispensable. It’s not about who is on stage but Who we are worshiping.

I got my one date. It was the first Sunday in November. I was excited to see who was on team with me and eager to be leading with them once again.

Then Mr. Bannister died.

Last Sunday, I was sitting with my family in our usual second row as my little Roo went on stage to join the church. The Bannisters were in their usual spot not far away.

At practice Wednesday night, I kept looking out over the sea of empty chairs and picturing their faces in their usual place. Warren and Linda are always in the far left section, the right if you are looking down from the stage. Warren’s height  made him easy to spot, and he always had a smile for me as he sang and worshiped.

Yesterday, I sat in our usual row as our church body gathered to remember Mr. Bannister and say goodbye.

So today I will don a garment of praise, though my spirit feels heavy.

Raised on the KJV and NKJV what has been running through my mind this week is Isaiah 61:3

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Today I will once again worship through grief.

It will not be about how I feel but about Who God is.

Worshiping through Grief

I love singing on worship team. One thing that I like best is that there are so many musicians in rotation that it is never (or rarely) the same team twice. We are not a band.

It is always the team that God has ordained for that week.

I found it incredibly meaningful today when I arrived to find the (sparse) team assembling with a different soprano than I was expecting.

Yay! I didn’t know we were singing together this week!

See, we didn’t have a regular mid-week practice due to a death in the worship leader’s family. Instead, we arrived earlier than usual to practice and prepare for the First Sunday Service.

There was only one service at 9:30, so we had extra time to go through the (long) song set.

There was no drummer. It was okay.

It’s always the team that God has ordained for that week.

As I sat through the service listening to our pastor’s sermon on Job, I was struck by his commentary on Job’s grief. I didn’t write notes or even take a sermon note paper for reference, but he spoke on how Job worshiped through his grief. He didn’t need to wait until he was on the other side of it to worship. He worshiped through it.

We can worship through our grief.

I looked at who God assembled to lead this morning. Did you see us? Were you there?

Our leader lost two beloved family members within a week of each other. He was at a funeral this past Wednesday. He will be at a funeral this week. He led worship through his grief.

He grieves.

Our soprano has been open with the grief she experiences in mothering a child who has made poor choices. I quote a recent facebook status of hers,

It’s been a beautiful week with my family here on the Outer Banks, really. I am truly thankful, but there is this grief that accompanies me everywhere I go, and it makes itself poignantly known during happy family times. Simply put, I miss my son. My dear son has made choices that remove him physically from us as he remains in jail and we go about our lives as normally as possible. But he is always with me. I grieve what should be. I grieve for myself and Kevin, for my other kids, and for him. And yet I choose to trust. I know the story is not over. I know that grief can be good for the soul. I know that God is faithful. So, I will enjoy this last day of vacation, grieve, and hope, and trust, and pray.”

and this just today

“Grief is a strange thing. You think it’s gone, or at least asleep for awhile and then it suddenly slaps you in the face! You shout, “No fair! I wasn’t ready for that!” But grief doesn’t play by any rules. Grief slapped me today in the middle of the store while I was innocently picking out a dress shirt, tie, and slacks for my son. You see, I wasn’t getting them for a job interview, or a friend’s wedding, but for his trial on Tuesday. Suddenly I was filled with longing for normalcy. To have happy reasons for him to dress nice. Longing for something that hasn’t been for quite awhile- to hug him, to straighten a tie, to wish him well in a job interview. Or how about to have him at our table? To watch him shoot baskets with his brother? That would be good. But, no. That is not where we are. So, tonight I hold a dress shirt and cry. But- oh the wonder of it- I do not cry without hope. Who fashioned my son? Who placed him in our family? Who orders his days? Who is it that will NOT be robbed of His Glory? The living triune God! My redeemer! My hope! The lifter of my head! When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I! Oh, magnify The Lord with me and let us exalt His name together! I sought The Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears!”

She grieves.

The alto, me, grieves with precious family friends as they battle cancer and loss. I grieve with those I care about as I sit with them in their stories of pain and brokenness. I grieve scenes in my story and my brokenness.

I grieve.

Our bass player grieves the tragic loss of a brother almost four years ago. Has it been four years? He grieves the tragic loss of his father-in-law a year and a half ago.

He grieves.

Our pianist has lived a full life. I don’t know specifics of his story and don’t know where he is in it today, but I cannot imagine that he doesn’t grieve, as well.

We all grieve.

I received so much kind feedback after the service. I marveled at what God did and how He did it. He pulled these grieving people together as a team to lead worship on the very Sunday that worshiping through grief was a focus.

We worship. We grieve. We hope.

Because of him, we can worship through the grief.

Balm for the Heart


It is always so, so sweet to get to make music and worship together.

Here is love, vast as the ocean
Lovingkindness as the flood
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days

On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast a gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

No love is higher, no love is wider
No love is deeper, no love is truer
No love is higher, no love is wider
No love is like Your love, o Lord