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.



CCM Drumming. Lord, Help Me

The other day, I played at a worship night event and had lots of fun. I used the house kit: a Ludwig Keystone. I loved this kit. But this isn’t the point.

The worship set was a mixture of some gospel (not hard core, but some), African, and CCM. In all, it was a multi-genre set that was fun.

Afterwords, a few drummers came up and asked about the cymbals and shared some compliments (always a weird thing cuz I want to hear the compliments but I also don’t want the attention). One dude asked me, “Do you play at church”, and my knee jerk response was, “Well, I’m trying not to”. And then I started laughing!

He then asked me, “Cuz it’s too simple?” And honestly, I wanted to say, “Yeah! It’s too simple, dry, boring, and bland”.

But I didn’t. I said, “Well, I do periodically play at churches but I just don’t have much fun doing it right now.” Most churches are playing all the popular worship songs that churches like Bethel, Hillsong, and other mega churches have written. And the genre is this mesh of rock, folk, ballad which we have simply called CCM (contemporary christian music).

I also told him that I grew up playing and attending a church that did musical styles ranging from gospel, r&b, ballads, and latin jazz. That’s what I grew up playing…and still enjoy to this day.

I don’t have anything against CCM music, or the people who have created the songs, or the musicians. In fact, it takes lots of creativity to do what they’ve done. So I have respect for them.

I’ve been in the studio creating some CCM tracks and when I’m doing the creating, it’s MORE fun but it’s not what I prefer to be doing.

In the words of Marie Kondo (Netflix, Tidying Up), the current church music stuff does not bring me any joy. Whatsoever. I don’t blame the creators of CCM or churches that do this style of music.

But I get zero joy out of playing CCM or listening to it.

I’m sharing all of this because I’m frustrated with musical styles at church. Why is it that most churches only do CCM? I mean, really!? There’s some tom stuff at the beginning. Die out at the bridge. Build it back up with toms. And then go into a full blown rhythm at the end.

At this very moment, I wonder if there’s someone from a gospel music church that’s saying, “I wonder why we ONLY do gospel music and not CCM?” Or at a latin american church that only does samba and salsa! LOL!

I’m not saying anything spectacular right now. I’d have to dig a little deeper. There’s the whole convo of being a multi-ethnic church and about being hospitable to others. There’s a lot happening with music, church, worship, with many different layers that includes theology and anthropology.

I think about how a church will have a particular musical genre value and sometimes it just feels imposed on me. Or the idea that I should like it and respond in exuberant praise. “Well, it’s not about the music Roy! It’s about Jesus. Stop being so difficult and superficial”. I’ve heard comments like this before. I wanna say, “Ok. You’re right! I’m sorry.” But I’m not sorry for sharing that I have zero joy in playing CCM stuff. I try my best at it but it’s not what I prefer.

I guess I’m just trying to figure out how I can play more multi-genre sets that capture different ways of experiencing God through music. I also want to be stretched as a musician and learn different genres that give me joy.

Here’s to hoping for different genres to be played at churches so that we can appreciate different cultures and tastes.

And here’s hoping to get more latin jazz, afro, jazz, experimental jazz, neo soul gigs that will help me grow as a musician.