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    Worship in times of sorrow

    Posted on May 11, 2010 by Paul | 8 Comments | Jump to Comments Box Below

    Paul blog reflection 5-2010Some of the hardest yet most inspiring times of worship occur during funerals. The raw emotions of sadness and loss are mixed with a sense of hope and eternal perspective.

    The book of Ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart” (7:2 NIV).

    In our fast-paced culture, funerals give us the rare occasion to reflect on the brevity of life and how each of our days are numbered. There is a sense of “coming to terms” with reality that our life on this earth will end. As Christians we find assurance in the promise of God’s Word that Jesus Christ did indeed die for the remission of our sins and rose again with the invitation to live forever through Him and with Him.

    Songs of worship can be the most encouraging aspect of a funeral service or a time of intense grief. Part of my role as a worship pastor is to show up and “pastor” those who are grieving. Several times last year I was called upon to lead worship during memorial or graveside services. Silence can be powerful. Stillness consoling. Yet when a simple chorus or hymn begins with a guitar or human voice, you can feel something change in the air. Timely words sung at the right moment can bring a wave of comfort and release His faithful presence.

    “Blessed be Your name when the road’s marked with suffering, when there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.” “Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you.” “I can only imagine …..I will rise when He calls my name, no more sorrow, no more pain.” These are just a few of the songs that have served the moment and brought hope to those who have lost loved ones.

    Sometimes we aren’t sure how to bring comfort in situations where someone is fighting an illness or recovering in some way. Often my wife and I have gone to someone’s bedside in the hospital or at their home and simply sang over them. With sensitivity to the moment, we pray for them and ask if they mind if we sing quietly and worship in their room. Some of my most profound moments with God have been during these times as tears flow and faith is released in prayer and song.

    Scripture is filled with passages that exemplify praise in the midst of pain, promises of joy as we walk through profound sorrow.

    “Why are you so downcast, oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God,” (Ps 42:5-6a).

    “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me … my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps 23).

    Shortly before a crazed gunman murdered her, Virginia Tech student Lauren McCain wrote in her diary, “Show me Your purpose for me at Tech, and on this earth. But, if You choose not to, I will still praise you and walk where You lead, not because I am selfless, or holy, or determined to sacrifice myself for what is right but because You are the delight of my heart; and I cannot live without You.”

    Lord, give us all that same heart as we seek to console others in their time of mourning. For one day we will wish for someone to sing over us and help us to worship in the midst of our sorrow.

    This article appeared in Worship Leader Magazine.  To subscribe:http://www.worshipleader.com/subscribe

    8 Comments
    Kelly Perkins 12/05/10

    In 1999, I lost my 7-month old grandson to bacterial meningitis. It was the Grace of God that got my family and I thru that tragedy. God always comes to our rescue!

    Josh Via 12/05/10

    Great word, Paul. Love your insight! Blessings bro. .jv.

    Sloan 17/05/10

    Hey Paul,

    Thank you for the blog. I want to encourage you to write more, It’s hard to find good insight on worship around the web (Bob Kauflin is awesome but I am not sure of who else to read, any suggestions?) I really appreciate the insight from seasoned leaders!

    Cheers
    Sloan

    Marie 25/02/11

    new to your blog, I’m finding you are as great a writer/teacher as you are a singer.

    My 2 fav quotes from this

    “Scripture is filled with passages that exemplify praise in the midst of pain, promises of joy as we walk through profound sorrow.”

    and

    “Lord, give us all that same heart as we seek to console others in their time of mourning. For one day we will wish for someone to sing over us and help us to worship in the midst of our sorrow.”

    Thank the Lord JOY doesn’t come from what is Happening around us.

    Also reminds me of “your grace is enough” No way I could make it through those times without Gods Grace being wrapped around me.

    {{{HUGS}}}
    spreadingJOY

    Lew 24/06/12

    I know there are many causes for sorrow, but this has overtaken my attention You’ve even put firstly ““It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart” (7:2 NIV)”. ‘

    Preparing’ to express by song the deep Christian faith of those who have passed, or will pass (sooner that the rest of us, possibly) has been my motivation to begin singing. (But it is not yet a vocation.) So in discussion on the difficulty in preparing for both a (my) performer’s grief and songs of faithful comfort in Heaven, it has been wisely stated by a local music academy director, that there is not known to be a great book of funeral standards. My Mom, who is not of our contemporary era, wishes for all to hear a well-done version of The Holy City. She would probably like it before her passing too. So much so, even as a nonmusician, she handed me the song sheets (which then sends this novice for help by prayer & lessons). Sharing the great songs of faith which supported the beloved in their lifetime maybe is something not to overlook. In this, ‘our time of preparation’, we might see it as also important to share with others, the beloved’s music of faith. The odes of their time are possibly a great witness of their character and vision of Christian faithfulness.

    Clearly I like singing Christian music more than any other, and the contemporary style has shown me a great freedom of expression for my faith. But most importantly is to see and hear the leaders in this community being lead by Jesus, and somehow knowing deeply it’s not an act or a diversion, also renews and calls to my Spirit For God and draws me to my knees.
    But a beloved’s funeral is not of just my (our)-time, but maybe is also of the eternal timelessness in God the beloved shared here on earth. Remember them, celebrate them that day, and remember to comfort me all the morrow (as you already do).

    Thanks for bringing this to topic, and letting me respond. It’s a topic without a strong focus in my Northeast US protestant experiences (but maybe an example exists in the traditional funeral culture of New Orleans, http://youtu.be/InqnQ8vU3DU)

    May the Lord keep our lamps full.

    [...] themselves, or offer ministry at times of need, I thought this might connect with some of you. Worship in times of sorrow by Paul [...]

    [...] article first appeared in Worship Leader Magazine and is courtesy of http://www.leadworship.com.  To [...]

    JC 28/08/15

    Thank you for this encouraging article that I found while searching in the midst of grief. My missing friend has just been found and returned to the Lord today. As a worship leader myself, sometimes I do struggle with worshipping or leading in the midst of grief and pain. But I’m thankful that we have that assurance in Christ, His joy will come in the morning – not dependent on situation or circumstances but on the promise of God and Him alone.

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