(Here’s a recap of the service and the songs we chose this past weekend at Howick Baptist Church. You can find links to the set lists of this church and many other churches each week at theworshipcommunity.com. You can also read through previous HBC service recaps here.)
On Tuesday at 12:51 p.m., a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the city of Christchurch:
At least 147 people have been confirmed dead and more than 200 people have been reported as missing as of 5:56pm local time, 27 February, making the earthquake one of the deadliest natural disasters in New Zealand’s recorded history. Prime Minister John Key stated that 22 February “may well be New Zealand’s darkest day”. Nationals from more than 20 countries are among those missing. The New Zealand Government declared a national state of emergency for the first time in New Zealand’s history. (via Wikipedia 28/2/2011)
How does the church then meet together in corporate worship in light of acute devastation and sorrow our whole country has been experiencing? With the earthquake weighing heavily on everyone’s minds, many of us (myself included) all needed to draw comfort from “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3-4). I think we all needed this reminder:
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…” (Heb 12:28)
Order of Service (27/2/2011 AM)
(worship leader: William Chong)
Prayer for Christchurch. Peter and Joe led the church in prayer for the city, for the people, for the nation.
Scripture Reading – Psalm 46, Revelation 21:1-5. The first passage talks of God our fortress in the midst of the earth giving way. The other describes the new city of God that followers of Christ can look forward to, where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more.” What hope!
1. The Solid Rock – Edward Mote and William Bradbury. “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand!”
2. All I Have Is Christ – Jordan Kauflin. Someone commented that we should have done this song closer to the message, where a “gospel blockbuster” would usually be placed. However, given it was a busy service there was a possibility that a song would need to be cut, so we sang this earlier in the service to make sure it wouldn’t be this one!! Also it can be worthwhile shifting songs around a bit so the songs aren’t used in predictable, cookie-cutter ways (e.g., opening song with lights and big drums, always singing “Speak O Lord” before a message).
3. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (instrumental) – Helen Lemmel, Michael W Smith. We preceded this song with a moment of quiet prayer. It’s traditionally used as an invitation to respond to the gospel, but the words are equally apt to minister to weary saints.
4. There Is A Hope – Stuart Townend. There is not much more you need to say after singing:
“When sufferings cease and sorrows die and every longing satisfied then joy unspeakable will flood my soul for I am truly home.”
Sermon: John Lennox. We were privileged to have Professor Lennox (Oxford University) as the guest speaker. He spoke directly about the topic of the goodness of God in light of evil in this world. You can watch/listen to the message here.
5. It Is Well With My Soul – Horatio Spafford. After hearing how loud the church sang, I think the roof will definitely need fixing this year!
I’ll write more in a separate post about some big lessons I learnt from preparing for this week’s service (including specific questions about choosing songs in light of a tragic event). For now, it’s just great to have been a part of it all!
UPDATE: Click here to read some further lessons I’m still learning in light of leading worship after an earthquake.