Tonight I went to something called “A Night of Praise.” It’s a time of worship and prayer that Asbury was hosting. I decided to go, because I felt like I needed to praise God. I needed to truly worship Him. My thought before going was this: “In worship of the One True God, our soul is set free, for in worship, we give all of our self to Him and He has set us free.” And I really needed to be free and to feel free in Him. Life has a lot going on and I wanted the intentional time just worshiping and praising God in the midst of it all. One of my favorite moments learning about worship here at Asbury is something Dr. Stamps, the former dean of the chapel and my professor for Sacramental Theology, once said in class: “God wants us. But there’s a particular way He wants us. God wants us in worship to Him.” This way of thinking has helped strengthened my own praise for God and how I view worship. Within worship, within praising God, everything is placed in proper perspective. Being in the midst of worship, truly diving into the depths of devotion, that’s where I find God, that’s where I find myself. Tonight as worship began, my prayer was that God might reveal a glimpse of heaven and He provided much. So I thought I might share some of my reflections.
The Lord is my stronghold
The night started with a reflection on Psalm 27. The second part of verse 1 really captured me: “The Lord is my stronghold.” God has not only created a dwelling within me, He has made a fort, reinforced against all evils. He has claimed His place within me with powerful force and authority. He will defend me against all that might try to attack and destroy me. He has built something that is strong, resilient, and longstanding within me and He dwells in that which He has prepared.
To see You high and lifted up
During the song “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” where the song goes “to see you high and lifted up,” I saw a series of images that honestly reminded me a lot of the Christos stained glass window in Estes. The first image I saw was of the crucified Christ, lifted high upon the cross. Then beyond the cross, I saw the resurrected Christ in pure white, ascending high into the sky. And then I saw a man collapsed before Christ. Jesus reached down and lifted the man’s face, my face to see Him. I, on my knees, saw Christ when He lifted my vision high enough to see His face. From my perspective completely fallen upon the ground, Christ was high and lifted up, though He stood right in front of me.
Leaning upon Christ
I remembered the scene of the Last Supper as described in the Gospel of John, where the one disciple reclining next to Jesus asks who the betrayer is. I once heard this scene describe with some historical context as to how meals were eaten while reclining on pillows and how close those gathered at the table would be. I remember it being described that the disciple, because of the way they were all reclining, was able to lean back and rest near Jesus as he asked the question. This familiarity, this trust, this closeness, this intimacy with Christ is something that I want.
Dance, my soul, dance
The only time I truly feel like I want to dance is when I am in deep, authentic worship of the One True God. My feet and legs start bouncing like crazy, I rock in various rhythms. It reminds me of when I saw inside of a school for rabbi at the Wailing Wall. I remember how they rocked back and forth, perpetually bowing as they read scripture and worshiped. Sometimes, I feel like I need to just start jumping up and down, because my body itself cannot contain the amount of praise coming forth from the depths of me.
This is my church, this is your church, this is His church
In the midst of worship, I feel the presence of God. It’s a place where I know that I can always meet Him. And yet, there’s something always spectacular to be able to look around and see brothers and sisters of Christ worshiping God in their own way. Our collective worship filling the air with our love for God, and there we are surrounded by His love for us. Together we are the body of Christ, united in Him.
A journey through worship
When we worship, we move from earth into the heavenly, entering into the Kingdom of God, where we find ourselves not only in His Spirit, His presence, but His heart as well. When we worship, all barriers fall and we stand before God. We feel the power of the presence of His Spirit, and there we also find His heart and know His love.
Center of the cross
May I be found in the center of the cross, where the words of Your mouth, the searching of Your feet, and the works of Your hands meet, the center of the cross where Your heart might be found; let your love flow…
Asbury is my Oxford
This one might need a little more explanation. I am currently taking a course called Theology of John Wesley. As I’ve read the history of John Wesley and his theological journey, I can understand why I’m such a Wesleyan in my own theological thought; I see so much of my faith reflected in Wesley’s own faith journey. The recognition that I had tonight was the way he once described how he viewed Oxford when his father wanted him to come take over the congregations that his father tended: “…wherever I can be most holy myself, there, I am assured, I can most promote holiness in others. But I am equally assured there is no place under heaven so fit for my improvement as Oxford.” (From one of John Wesley’s letters as edited and compiled by Frank Baker). Asbury has been a place for me where I have learned the most about holiness and where it feels as if God has done most of His work in my life. I often advise to other newer students to throw themselves upon the altar as living sacrifices and let God do what He will with them, because if given the chance, God will do so much during their time here. My journey here has been amazing and I know that one day that journey will come to an end, even as a new one begins, but I do still treasure this time, where God has transformed and redeemed so much of me. Asbury is an important place to me and I know that it is a place where God truly dwells.
There were even more thoughts than this, but for now, I will continue to meditate upon them myself. I know I’ll probably write another blog just on how much I love the Eucharist and what it means to me. But for now, this is where the journey goes.