Weeping as a Spiritual Discipline

6.16.2020 Morning Meditation

Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents…For they come weeping to me…I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favour in your sight—and do not let me see my misery….So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you. I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself.

Numbers 11

As chaplains, we hear the weeping and burdens of the people.  What people go through can be heartbreaking at times.  People unload.  The pain of loss needs words, actions, and community to be enacted.  When the people of God are weeping and sharing their burdens, it’s the priests that are carrying the load, trying to hear what God is saying.  To see how God might be providing, delivering, and meeting the needs.  

There is a mystery to sharing our burdens and discerning God’s presence.  When we have undergone a loss, what are we to do with it?  When we weep, how is God with us?  What does God do with our pain?  

In the Old Testament, it seems like God hears the weeping and responds.  In the New Testament, people share their burdens with Jesus and He responds.  

It makes me wonder if there is always a response. Sometimes a hidden response that must be discovered. The burden is to be named from as many possible angles. The loss must be named. The pain must be lifted up with cries.

Weeping becomes a spiritual discipline. Yes, a form of prayer. I don’t want to say rote prayers in a time of loss and hardship. I need to weep, cry out, and make my pain known to a God who cares and listens.

Somewhere, I’ve heard that people only turn to God when they’re in need. And to that I say, “SO WHAT!!” Let them turn to God in their despair. Let them turn to God in their deepest losses and pain. The pressures of life are real. The presence of God in community is also real.

This passage helps shape my vocation as a listener and priestly presence. I need part of God’s Spirit to fill me and animate my ears, eyes, thoughts, and feelings. Why? Because and I want to hear with God’s heart. I want to see with God’s eyes. I want think God’s thoughts. And I want feel God’s emotions. My capacities are limited. But God is not limited.

I can’t tell you why, but I deeply care about others. I want to see others healed and made whole. I want to be in their corner, rooting for their lives to flourish. If I feel like that, I wonder how a loving God feels about humanity.

A worship band I played with wrote and arranged this original song. It was birthed from a passage in the book of Revelation. The main line is “Weep no more”. It suggests that as God has introduced us to what Heaven on Earth looks like in the form of Christ Jesus, the ending to the story is that the Lord Jesus has carried and heard all of our burdens. He has conquered all pain and death through his sacrificial life and death.

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=E-3ut3xRR5w&feature=share

Peace

That Time I Spoke/Played To 10,000+ People

[Don’t bypass the + after the number…it gives me more validation]

I should have shaved and cut my hair for Urbana!

When I played drums and led communion at Urbana, I thought I was gonna feel this sense of “I’ve made it”. Luckily, I’ve failed enough times to remember that once you exit the stage, it’s back to normal life.

When I stepped off the stage after communion, I was greeted by friends: my bandmates, new IV staff friends, and the program director (Una). They embraced me (that means “hugged really tight”) and honestly didn’t say many words.

I let the emotion die down and said a small prayer of gratefulness and hoping that students renewed and remembered their commitments to Jesus. That was it.

It feels like our Christian culture praises the stage and those on it. We think stage people are the smartest, most holy, put together people. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I sure fooled them! 😉

Honestly, I want to be really smart and articulate. I want the likes on social media and to be trending. But I want it less now than I did in previous years. [I’m not trying to be trendy or “humble” when I say this! I really want the clicks to hopefully make money!). LOL

And then I read passages where Paul tells the people of Corinth that our life of faith is a response to God’s power, not our smarts or emotional footwork.


There’s this concept of wisdom in the bible that somehow comes from God. Wisdom is personified as a “She” in the old testament and it’s calling out to us all the time. And then we hear things like, “If you have ears to hear…”

But here’s the thing (I hate this phrase but it rolls off my tongue more than I want to admit): I’ve had enough experiences in life to teach me that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

The first step in AA is to admit that we’re powerless. Richard Rohr says,

“God seems to have hidden holiness and wholeness in a secret place where only the humble will find it…You will not learn to actively draw upon a Larger Source until your usual resources are depleted and revealed as wanting. In fact, you will not even know there is a Larger Source until your own sources and resources fail you.”

Rohr, Richard. Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (p. 2-3). St. Anthony Messenger Press. Kindle Edition.

Why is the pretense to knowing God or having any inclination of wisdom to live life began with humility? I don’t know! No pun intended. Only that if I pictured myself walking around thinking that I was the smartest and wisest person, I’d be centered on my own self as the sole source.

And there’s the problem! I become the source of wisdom but I’ve made enough mistakes in life to realize I’m not the source.

Jesus spends so much time with the “out-of-luck” down-and-outers, the ones who know they don’t have the resources needed to make due in life.

So I confess as much as I’m aware to God as a way to admit my limitations. I pray in the morning, midday, and evening. Read my bible. Connect with others. Tell Christina when I’ve screwed up (she’s one of my confessors). I go see a therapist. I visit a spiritual director. I struggle to belong to a church community but I show up and sing songs of praise to God, listen to a sermon, and work to be part of communal life.

Praying for wisdom today. Praying to remember that I’m limited in my resources. Praying for deeper wisdom and to see the big picture in all things. Praying for God to help me plant a new church (or more that He plants one and that I can be a part of it). Praying to listen well to others, especially those I hang out with the most (familiarity can sometimes dull curiosity). I just try to pray a lot because it keeps me humble.

Love you all!

Urbana18 Communion Message

This was a proud a moment in my Urbana18 journey (and career, once I learned that the likings of John Stott had once led communion).

I was more nervous about 10 minutes of celebrating communion in front of 11000 people than playing drums for about 8-10 sets! And communion was to be the last talk of the conference so I had to wait all week in anxious excitement.

I was honored to lead communion and felt a sense of God’s peace and presence. I was asked how I felt after leading: “I felt like myself”.

The message has continued to nourish me. I’m still trying to understand who Jesus is and what it means to remember Him. I’m in a place of seeking where it’s dark so being reminded that not all things are understood or explained from the outset is comforting. Communion has become a “God cares” reminder.

Urbana 18 Recap

URBANA18 Recap

What does it mean to be a faithful witness in a culture that is experiencing so much disruption?  In a church era that is seeing decline and losing influence? In some ways, these were the questions that Urbana aimed to address.  Using the book of Revelation, speakers used its message of Jesus Christ as the Faithful One to convey how God is seated on the throne, ruling and reigning.  

Having an image of God as the model for Faithful Witness gives us a way to give our lives over to Christ Jesus in all circumstances because we know that in the end, all things are made new by his power, authority, and redemptive love.  

It’s in this context that we’re compelled to be a faithful witness in our own settings and purposes so that we might know Christ and make him known.  

WORSHIP

Worshipping and attending the conference with close to 11000 attendee’s was a gift.  While I’ve played drums on big stages, it was the hospitality offered by all the InterVarsity volunteers and team members that most touched me.  Their encouragement, support, and volunteering truly blessed the worship team. The stage managers, production directors, and traffic control volunteers were the real heroes.  It’s the volunteer crew of about 1000+ people that make the conference so special.

The student and attendee’s showered the worship team with love and support.  After the first full day, we fell in love with them and it turned into a mutual partnership of worshipping and communing together.  

We received the following feedback (paraphrased):

  • Worshipping in multiple languages was a powerful expression of all tribes and tongues praising Jesus.
  • Many shared how the worship team seemed like a family on stage and was unpretentious off-stage.  I think that’s because we spent so much time with each other off stage learning to “remain in Jesus” and be as competent as possible on the stage.  We grew in love for each other and that spilled onto the stage.
  • Many long time InterVarsity staffers and directors said it was the best worship experience they’ve seen at Urbana!  I had text messages after the first day with feedback that it was the best start they’d seen. They also said it was some of the most competent musicianship they’d ever had.  
  • The team was praised for how leadership was shared on the stage.  While Eric Lige was our worship director, he had a vocal director, two music directors, a production engineer, sound engineer, and chaplain.  Each singer lead a song or two from the main stage. It was never one single person who dominated the stage.
  • From a multi-ethnic/multi-cultural perspective, we did at least 6 different languages.  We had people asking us how we could go from contemporary Christian music to jamaican music at the turn of a song.  We really did a wide array of styles and languages to capture God’s work around the world.

BAND CHAPLAIN

I’ve been playing the drums since I was a kid and got really serious in my 20’s.  I’ve played at large church and conference gatherings, on TBN, and have done a few albums.  This experience at Urbana was definitely a highlight. What made it deeper was serving as the band chaplain.  Throughout the year, I built a relationship with the members and listened to their hopes, struggles, and fears.  We talked about their roles and their personal lives. We had people who lost loved ones, hospitalization, and new babies!  People had family issues, ministry challenges, and personal struggles that we prayed through.

Getting to be a drummer and chaplain was the perfect job for me!  I was able to express myself musically and also be a shepherding presence.  

I tried to focus the band on Jesus as the prize–that in January, we were still going to get up, go to our regular jobs, and our hearts were to be turned towards Him as the Faithful One.  Mountain top experiences are very periodic and fun in nature. But most of our lives are lived in the valleys of life. That’s where we learn how Jesus will never leave or forsake us

COMMUNION

When I was asked to lead communion, I didn’t realize who had been leading it in past conferences.  My friend Cory Willson quipped that I’d be sharing the same stage and role as John Stott! I was really nervous after that.  

It come about that the person who was going to lead communion didn’t feel comfortable because she was not fully ordained yet.  Out of respect, she bowed out. The program director knew that I was a chaplain and commissioned to do so. They had conversations about who should be the celebrant and my name kept coming up for reasons I’m still not sure about.  They heard the work I was doing with the worship team and felt that the attendee’s would know me based on the coverage I was getting on the stage.

I submitted my communion homily and it was approved.  I rehearsed it on the big stage the day of and then waited.  It seemed like eternity. I was more nervous about ten minutes of speaking than hours of playing.

When I got up to the podium, the attendee’s cheered and were supportive.  I proceeded and when I got off the stage, my phone blew up with messages from friends watching online or in person.  I was so overwhelmed by their love and encouragement. People asked me how I felt. I told them, “I feel like myself”.

THE STATS

Here are a few telling stats:

  • We rehearsed as a band for at least 24 days.  
  • We rehearsed each song at least 20 times each.
  • 24 hours of studio time
  • 6 straight days of dress rehearsal
  • One original song written that will be a hit (Faithful unto death-Weep no more)
  • Traveled to Orlando twice, Wisconsin, St. Louis, and Pasadena for rehearsals or conferences.  
  • Urbana was streamed online and about 5000+ were watching
  • We played about 7 different genres (latin, black gospel, contemporary, r&b, etc)
  • I facilitated about 20 devotionals for the team.
  • Close to 11000 people attended Urbana

Here are some links to the conference:

https://urbana.org/urbana-18/general-sessions (video sessions)

https://urbana.org/urbana-18/photos

https://vimeo.com/309327755 (original song we wrote for the conference)

Search instagram #urbana18

THANK YOU

I’m deeply grateful to Bill Hoehn, Bob Hoehn, and the people at Hoehn Motors for their support and giving me the flexibility to be a part of this conference.  They made it possible for me to do this.

I’m grateful for the worship team and all the work everyone put it.  It was gift to see them all shine! It was a great learning experience for me and learned a lot about music, multi-ethnicity, team dynamics, and about own self.  

I want to thank Una Lucey Lee for trusting me to celebrate communion and for all her encouragement throughout the year.  She is a force to be reckoned with. 🙂

I also want to thank Ruth Hubbard for her constant support.

Lastly, I’m grateful for Christina and my boys.  We made a family decision to do this and they supported me 100%.  Oh, and I’m grateful for Ernie and Lindsey LeDuc. He’s my basstie!

I imagine that this team will be lifelong friends and that we’ll conspire together in the future!