This Sunday as a church we had an interwoven service between teaching and worship, where we focused together on the three elements that make up our worship experience at Renovatus – Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs.
“We will embrace every season of the soul. We will explore a vocabulary of joy, pain, awe, doubt, love and every human emotion in our worship. We will rejoice with those who rejoice and we will weep with those who weep.” -Renovatus Worship Manifesto
The Psalms in scripture are most poignant examples of what it means to explore the emotions of the human soul and lay them bare before God. David, in all of his anguish and fear, his love and joy, he always displayed a consistent knowledge of the Love of God for him in his songs. Even when he was doubting and dismayed he called out to a God he knew to be living and real. David always knew that he was affectionately crafted, woven together with the threads of God’s good love in his mother’s womb, which gave him the freedom to give God all of his heart – the good, the bad and the ugly. And so we must in song as a church give all of our hearts to the Lord, giving Him permission to invade every season of our souls and when we do that unified, we find ourselves rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep.
This Sunday we sang together an arrangement of Psalm 139 by our dear Paul Stanfield. While we don’t have this song recorded (yet!) here are the words for your meditation:
“Where can I go from you? Where can I go from you? If I sleep in the deep where the darkness hides me You are there
I will praise you, for you are good
I will praise you, for you have made me
Beautifully made me
Where can I run from your presence? Where can I run from your presence? If I rise on morning wings To the farthest of the seas
Your hand holds me
Lord you know my every thought, when I rise and when I fall, you see me
Even when I choose to run, You always overcome, and find me
For there is no word on my tongue, Not a single note is sung without you
Before the psalm formed on my lips You restored my innocence completely
And that my soul knows well”
“We ARE your grandmother’s church. And your great-grandmother’s church. And your great-great-grandmother’s church. We embrace continuity with the Church’s past in the form of hymns and ancient song. We seek intergenerational and cultural diversity. We are a local representation of a timeless community.” – Renovatus Worship Manifesto
As a body we’ve always gladly drawn from an ancient well. We celebrate those who have gone before and honor the lives lived by the saints throughout the ages. We particularly love the old hymns because of their rich theology and poetic displays of God’s ways. They teach us as we sing, filling our minds and hearts at the same time. I (sarah) am most fond of old hymn books, and often begin my songwriting process by just pouring over old words and renewing the melodies, as I did with the song we sung together at Little Rock location, “O Word of God Incarnate”, which you can listen to and purchase here.
Spiritual songs are often the most simple songs. When God is doing something by His spirit that feels too deep for words there are sighs, groans and simple expressions of gratitude that rise from the deep places.
We sang together a song that welcomed the Holy Spirit into our church, into the very room that He might breathe His love and affections over us. While we believe that God is always present and that His spirit is always moving, I think God really enjoys being invited. It’s also rare that we sing directly to the Holy Spirit and that’s why I love this song, “Holy Spirit” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt, which you can buy here.
Learning to worship God in spirit and truth will take a lifetime, of that I’m sure. But having these three expressions helps us get a little closer as a unified body in our songs of great love to God. I must confess, before I go, that this morning as we sung Psalm 139 together my soul needed the reminder that I cannot escape His affections, and looking out over you, dear bride, my heart was lifted in what has been a difficult season. Words cannot describe how treasured these songs are to me, but more treasured is the gift of singing them with you.