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We sang a song last Sunday called Agnus Dei that I think was originally done by Michael W. Smith on his 2001 worship album. Third Day has done the song as well; that being the version I am more familiar with.  Any way, it is a great song to sing at church, but I have never taken the time to see what the title means.  I guess I always assumed it was Latin or maybe a Greek word or something.

So I found some info. that sheds some light on the term. Check this out:

Agnus Dei is a Latin term meaning Lamb of God, and was originally used to refer to Jesus Christ in his role of the perfect sacrificial offering that atones for the sins of humanity in Christian theology, harkening back to ancient Jewish Temple sacrifices. The phrase “Agnus Dei” refers to several uses of this image.

In Christian iconography, an Agnus Dei is a visual representation of Jesus as a lamb, since the Middle Ages usually holding a standard or banner with a cross.

In the Mass of the Roman Rite and also in the Eucharist of the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Church, and the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church the Agnus Dei is the invocation to the Lamb of God sung or recited during the fraction of the Host.[1] It is said to have been introduced into the Mass by Pope Sergius I (687–701).[2]

Based upon John the Baptist‘s reference in John 1:29 to Jesus (“Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”), the text in Latin is:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

which means:

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

So basically, the Agnus Dei means Lamb of God so that fits well with the lyrics of the song:

Alleluia
Holy
Holy are You Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

You are holy
Holy are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

Amen

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I saw the following posted at worshiptogether.com on the forums and thought I would share it with you.

I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that’s what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, ‘Are you there, God?’ he said. ‘Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed…’ I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin’s unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in. He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he’s 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them. I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day’s laundry chores. And Saturdays – oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That’s the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. ‘That one’s goin’ to Chi-car-go! ‘ Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn’t know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God – to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an ‘educated’ person to grasp.. God seems like his closest companion. In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am.. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances – they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God’s care. Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I’ll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won’t be surprised at all!

This Sunday as part of the singing portion of the worship service we are going to do something I have never led anyone to do before. We are going to recite the Apostles’ Creed.

Different for us, yes. Some churches recite it every Sunday. Creeds are just not a big part of the Wesleyan tradition as far as I know. Although, John Wesley being an Anglican priest, was probably familiar with the Apostles and Nicene Creed. And I think it is a good thing to know and maybe a good thing for a body of believers to say together in a worship service.  The excerpt that I have included below makes some interesting points about how reciting creeds connects us with worshippers from the past. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

The Case for Reciting Creeds in Worship

Text by Joan Huyser-Honig

Albert Aymer believes more churches should use creeds in worship. Given how The DaVinci Code sparks so many questions about Christianity, now is a good time to brush up on creeds.

“People see the schools I attended and the degrees I earned and think that’s who I am. It’s not,” says Albert Aymer, president of Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury , North Carolina .

Aymer grew up on the Caribbean island of Antigua, surrounded by steeldrum and calypso music. But what formed him, he says, is worshiping alongside his parents—an Anglican policeman and a Methodist seamstress, who knew 450 hymns byJohn and Charles Wesley.

“Where I grew up, we used Cranmer’s liturgy every Sunday. We were following the seasons of the church’s year from my infancy,” Aymer says. He learned to chant, not sing, the psalm for the day. The words and rhythms of ancient canticles, such as the Te Deum, which follows the outlines of the Apostles’ Creed, shaped him.

“In worship we celebrate God with a host of angels and archangels. I can sense my grandmother and my mother and all the saints of God who have preceded me but who are still here surrounding me in an unbroken fellowship,” he says.

Aymer has a message for churches doing all they can to make worship relevant and contemporary. “Remember that worship transcends time and space,” he urges.

One of the best ways to do that is to use creeds in worship.

Saying who we are

Aymer says he’s encouraged by liturgical revisions that are intelligible and meaningful to worshipers, yet preserve our heritage as a worldwide “communion of the church celestial and the church terrestrial.”

“Saying the creeds in worship links us to the church of past ages and connects us to the worship of future ages. Only a narrow stream of death separates us from the saints now in heaven—and God spans that. Using creeds in worship gives the sense that God’s future is already now,” Aymer says.

He has studied, pastored churches, and taught throughout the Caribbean and the Eastern United States . He’s moved in Anglican, British Methodist, United Methodist, and, now, African Methodist Episcopal Zion circles. He often worships in Presbyterian and Lutheran churches.

“Saying creeds in worship makes me feel so at home among believers, no matter where I am,” Aymer says.

New Life Wesleyan Church is going to be having an Ash Wednesday service this year. I found this little blurb about Ash Wednesday and thought I would share it with you:

Ash Wednesday, is the first day of Lent, the 40 days that

precedes Holy Week and Easter.  In the Christian Scriptures the

number 40 relates to the period spent in the Ark by Noah, the

period spent by Israel seeking the Promised Land after the

Exodus, and the amount of time Jesus was in the Wilderness after

his baptism and prior to beginning his ministry.  For us, the

Season of Lent is an invitation to 40 days of renewal (“Lent”

means “spring”),  40 days to prepare ourselves to take in the

Good News of Easter through deeper  disciplines of prayer,

fasting, and almsgiving.   Ashes are the traditional sign of

sorrow and repentance and are also a sign of “mortality”.

Receiving the sacrament tonight reminds us that God’s love is

triumphant over sin and death, and that God remains “in

communion” with us, that in Christ, our mortality is overcome.

Isn’t it amazing that the God of the Universe calls us friends? In John 15:14-15 Jesus speaks of this to his disciples when he says, “14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

This Sunday is Friend Day at church and that theme is apparent in the song choices this week. We are putting a few hymns together to start off with which include:

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

My Jesus I love thee

Tis So Sweet

Tis so Sweet has another verse in it that we hadn’t ever done before but we are adding it in this week. It says:

Verse 4

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him
Precious Jesus Savior Friend
And I know that He is with me
Will be with me to the end

What a great verse! Before that song we are singing the first verse of “My Jesus I love thee” as an intro.  Sometimes the words of hymns can be confusing if we don’t know the context around them. “Here we raise our Ebenezer” in Come thou Fount is a good example. In My Jesus I love thee it has the line, “If ever I love thee, my Jesus tis now”. I have heard people question that because it sounds like we are saying that our love for Jesus goes up and down based on our circumstances. The writer of that hymn, William Featherstone, was only 16 when he wrote the hymn, and he wrote it shortly after he was converted from a life of sin. You can imagine how his life would of changed and how some of his friends might not have understood. It is in those times, when our love for Jesus grows. When we stand up for our faith, we can say, “if ever I love thee, my Jesus tis now.” Check out this story about the hymn:

A Protestant Episcopal Bi­shop of Mi­chi­gan once re­lat­ed the fol­low­ing in­ci­dent to a large au­di­ence in one of the Rev. E. P. Ham­mond’s meet­ings in St. Lou­is. “A young, tal­ent­ed and ten­der-heart­ed ac­tress was pass­ing along the street of a large ci­ty. See­ing a pale, sick girl ly­ing up­on a couch just with­in the half-open door of a beau­ti­ful dwell­ing, she en­tered, with the thought that by her vi­va­ci­ty and plea­sant con­ver­sa­tion she might cheer the young in­va­lid. The sick girl was a de­vot­ed Christ­ian, and her words, her pa­tience, her sub­mis­sion and hea­ven-lit coun­te­nance, so dem­on­strat­ed the spir­it of her re­li­gion that the ac­tress was led to give some ear­nest thought to the claims of Christ­i­an­i­ty, and was tho­rough­ly con­vert­ed, and be­came a true fol­low­er of Christ. She told her fa­ther, the lead­er of the the­a­ter troupe, of her con­ver­sion, and of her de­sire to aban­don the stage, stat­ing that she could not live a con­sis­tent Christ­ian life and fol­low the life of an ac­tress. Her fa­ther was as­ton­ished be­yond mea­sure, and told his daugh­ter that their liv­ing would be lost to them and their bu­si­ness ru­ined, if she per­sist­ed in her re­so­lu­tion. Lov­ing her fa­ther dear­ly, she was shak­en some­what in her pur­pose, and par­tial­ly con­sent­ed to fill the pub­lished en­gage­ment to be met in a few days. She was the star of the troupe, and a gen­er­al fa­vo­rite. Ev­ery prep­a­ra­tion was made for the play in which she was to ap­pear. The ev­en­ing came and the fa­ther re­joiced that he had won back his daugh­ter, and that their liv­ing was not to be lost. The hour ar­rived; a large au­di­ence had as­sem­bled. The cur­tain rose, and the young ac­tress stepped for­ward firm­ly amid the ap­plause of the mul­ti­tude. But an un­wont­ed light beamed from her beau­ti­ful face. Amid the breath­less si­lence of the au­di­ence, she re­peat­ed:

‘My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.’

This was all. Through Christ she had con­quered and, leav­ing the au­di­ence in tears, she re­tired from the stage, ne­ver to ap­pear up­on it again. Through her in­flu­ence her fa­ther was con­vert­ed, and through their unit­ed evan­gel­is­tic la­bors ma­ny were led to God.”

I love to read. It’s strange though, because I almost always read non-fiction books. Novels are great, and I don’t really know why I don’t read them more, because I love a good story as much as the next, but for some reason I will get some topic in my head and then I have to go buy 3 or 4 books about that subject and learn about it.  That has been the case again as I have gotten back into the lead worshipper role at NLWC.  This month’s topic: worship.

I have been intrigued by this one before. I’ve read books by Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, David Crowder, and Louie Giglio.  Those books helped me to understand that worship is so much more than what we do on Sunday mornings.  All excellent reads indeed.

I’ve read books dealing with the practical side of leading worship. A bunch by Tom Kraeuter, “Things They Didn’t Teach Me in Worship Leading School“, (lucky for me, I never went to worship leading school, oh wait, that’s part of the joke of the title, there are schools for that now though) “Keys to Becoming an Effective Worship Leader“, and “Developing an Effective Worship Ministry” all gave me some good pointers and direction in how to lead a worship team and probably helped me to avoid a few pitfalls along the way.

But I’m reading one now that I’m not even finished with yet, and I would have to say it is way up there on the list, if not at the top. It is called Worship Matters and was written by Bob Kauflin, director of worship development for Sovereign Grace Ministries.

This book has the best combination of theological depth and practical advice for those interested in what worship is all about that I have read so far.  One of the most interesting parts of the book  has been in Part Two where he asks, So What Does a Worship Leader Do? He answers this question with a personal mission statement that says,

“A faithful worship leader magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit skillfully combining God’s Word with music, thereby motivating the gathered church to proclaim the gospel, to cherish God’s presence, and to live for God’s glory.”

Over the next 11 chapters, he then breaks down each part of that statement going over each thought in more detail.  Each chapter is short enough that you can read it easily in 15 minutes or less, giving you the opportunity to read a little here and there and not always have to pick up the book and start in the middle of the author’s train of thought.

So yes, Worship Matters, great book, everyone on the worship team should read it. Along with this, and this. Read those alot.

This upcoming Sunday is a little different in that we are choosing songs with an emphasis on theme rather than looking at songs that are objective, or subjective.

Pastor Larry is going to be preaching on the Trinity this Sunday as part of his Back to Basics sermon series, so we picked some of the songs with that in mind. Below is the set list for Sunday.

Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing)

Glory to God Forever

Praise the Father, Praise the Son

How Great is Our God

Offertory – To the Only God

It is actually a little bit different for me to choose songs based on theme. Usually, I am thinking about the dymanics of a worship set and how songs will bring someone from where they are currently at, to an understanding of the greatness of God, and hopefully to a time of closeness with God where they can respond to the work of the Holy Spirit. This week there is the added dimension of also looking at how a song expresses the Trinity. Praise the Father, Praise the Son is a new one for our church, but it has a great chorus that is easy to sing and catch on to:

Praise the Father, Praise the Son, Praise the Spirit, three in one, clothed in power and in grace, the name above all other names.

How Great is our God speaks of the trinity in the second verse when it says, “The Godhead, three in one, Father, Spirit, Son, The Lion and the Lamb, the Lion and the Lamb.

We are also going to sing a song during offering called “To the Only God” which is a great song off of the Glory Revealed project, taken directly from Jude 24-25

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