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Thursday, January 08, 2009
Worship and the Practice of Seeing
Epiphany is about seeing.  Jesus echoes Isaiah when, in the midst of his parable teachings, he says:
15For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.' 16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Think about it. In order to "see" and not just look, one must have "eyes to see." The best worship design and leadership trains our sight (often without our knowing it), shows us where to look, and what to look for, but only the Spirit can make us see. 

So what's the secret to "seeing?" I think it begins with the humble disposition to recognize I have not seen it all yet. Somehow, the pride of my familiarity must be broken. I must learn to read anew. Just when we think we have extracted all the "relevant" applications out of the text, we must remember that reading Scripture is less about getting something out of it, and more about getting ourselves into it. I am looking for worship design and leadership that opens doors into vast chambers of revelation, orienting me with the kind of World God is making, where mountains bow down and oceans roar and the trees of the field clap their hands in joy. This kind of worship begins with an epiphany, wherein we behold the manifestation of Jesus Christ. There's so much to say here-- but people don't read long blog posts. ;-) Let me give a favorite pastor and a profound poet the last words on this entry.  
There is hardly a detail in the gospel story that was not at the time (and still) overlooked because unlikely, dismissed because commonplace, and rejected because illegal. But under the surface of conventionality and behind the scenes of probability, each was effectively inaugurating the kingdom: illegitimate (as was supposed) conception, barnyard birth, Nazareth silence, Galilean secularity, Sabbath healings, Gethsemane prayers, criminal death, baptismal water, eucharistic bread and wine. Subversion.  Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989) p.33.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in one of her poems, penned this oft-cited verse:

Earth's crammed with heaven and every common bush aflame with God,
but only he who sees takes off his shoes.
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

To design and lead this kind of worship, we must recover the humility to see and the faith to take off our own shoes. . . . 

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posted by John David Walt | at 1/08/2009 10:20:00 AM



Blogger J Paulo said...

Hey JD... what a great post! I just heard someone last week say something in the lines of "The problem with our spiritual journeys is that we get so caught up in ourselves and God's development of "us", that we forget to realize (read see) and participate in His work all around us right now".
I've been following your posts and have been blessed by them... but NO, I will not through away my blackberry! :)

8:51 AM EST  

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