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

Revelation Update #2

 

I have this painting in my office.  It’s called a pantocrator and it depicts Jesus as righteous and just (holding the book of the Law), as well as offering a sign of peace (a sign of faithfulness and mercy).  

Jesus as a Just and loving Emperor.
Jesus as a peacemaker and faithful Emperor.

Revelation 4 is captures the central image of the whole book:  Jesus is Lord (Caesar/Emperor). The throne room scene is about painting a picture of true reality.  

Reality gets us dealing with what’s at hand.  Sometimes reality feels painful and overwhelming so we hide, try to control it, or give in.  

John is getting a dose of reality:  Jesus rules and reigns with power, justice, and peace.  The invitation to open the door that is standing in heaven is to enter into right reality, which will cause us to fall down to our knees in worship.

May you and I have a vision of reality and surrender to it.  It’s the best good news for our lives that aligns us towards our true selves in Christ and redemption in this world.

Revelation Update #1

Revelation Update #1

Any Star Wars fans on the team?! 🙂

I tripped out when they came out with episodes 1-3, mostly because I couldn’t conceive the back stories they were going to tell. It didn’t make any sense to me so I rely on my son’s, Christopher and David, to relay the stories to me.

John’s writings in Revelation are kind of like Star Wars in the sense that the order they were released in doesn’t make sense. John’s visions aren’t sequential. This means that he could be sharing a vision and then the text says, “And then I saw…” and it’s a completely different episode…maybe episode 7 when he was just on episode 2.

One way to keep the story straight is to remember the main vision which begins at chapter 4: “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.” (Rev. 4:1)

Paul Spilsbury says, “…John is summoned through an open door in the sky. On passing through this door he comes face to face with a panorama of breathtaking beauty and majesty–the throne room of God (if such a place could be called a room). This initial scene is the hub of the whole book. Everything that happens after it is like spoke, radiating outward from this vision of God on his throne…” (p.45)

If you ever feel lost in the book, go back to Revelation 4…and bow down in worship before the One who calls you his own.

If you want more Revelation resources, message me and I’ll send you what I have. And if you’ve found anything helpful on the book, let me know as well! 🙂

Urbana18: Nothing new in Revelation

[NOTE:  This year, I have the opportunity to play drums for the Urbana conference and be the band chaplain.  From their site:

Urbana is a catalytic event bringing together a diverse mix of college and graduate students, faculty, recent graduates, pastors, church and ministry leaders, missions organizations and schools.

I’m posting thoughts/reflections on being musicians, ministers, and mission-minded that are shaped by scripture, tradition, and our own experiences.  This year, Urbana has chosen the theme “Faithful Witness” and the book of Revelation to discern our role in God’s mission for the world.  I’m also using a rubric of character, competency, chemistry, and culture to organize thoughts and ideas.]


Eugene Peterson says that there is nothing new being said in the book of Revelation.  I found that deeply profound given that my pentecostal/dispensationalist background gave me a sense that Revelation was about futuristic, catastrophic events occurring on earth.  Rapture.  Wars.  Famine.  Earthquakes.  The Anti-Christ (Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, The Pope, Barak Obama, Trump).

So when I read Psalm 93:1,25, I was yet again reminded of Peterson’s adage:  there’s nothing new being said.  God has been saying it “…in the beginning”.

The team has been thinking about Revelation 4-5, which has been dubbed “The Throne room scene”.  What John saw then is what the Psalmist says thousands of years prior:

1 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;

the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
    holiness adorns your house
    for endless days.

Why does the Lord reign?  And why is that good news?  And how does the Lord rule and reign?  That’s probably the most important question for me.  In other words, whose in charge and are they worthy of leading?

In the marketplace, a company takes its shape and form from the leaders (those who rule and reign).  The manner of leading trickles down the pike and influences each person.  Leadership is very important.  It sets vision and values which impact the culture of a company.

As Christians, we profess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  He rules and reigns with justice, mercy, and unfailing love.  That’s a great description of a leader!

As musicians leading people in worship, I’m a bit holy-scared!  How and why is that God would choose to use some rag-tag people with unclean lips and impure hearts to lead people into His throne room?  I’m not trying to paint a sad picture of our depravity, but in some ways, God’s presence doesn’t allow me to stay unexposed.  All things are brought to the light and because he rules with justice and mercy, I’m in good hands.

Someone taught early on my musician formation that we play because we motivated and compelled to worship the living God.  When I play at church, people come up to me and say, “I knew it was you playing today…I could feel you.”  That means a lot to me because I want every beat to a passionate prose of worship to the living God.  I’m captivated by this Jesus as King figure!  I’m moved by His love for me and for you.  And I want the music to reflect it.