Late last night I returned from Minnesota, where I spent the week at the Nation Worship Conference. For several days now I have been thinking about how I could possibly describe the event. It’s so hard, because the experience of being at this event is really quite overwhelming. It was more than I could even take in while I was there. How could I capture it and put it into words? I can’t re-create the powerful sermons. Even a recording couldn’t reproduce the sounds of the instruments and voices. It’s hard to summarize the content of the many interesting and informational presentations.
I think that eventually there will be photos and video recordings of some of the services, concerts, and presentations available and you may be able to get a glimpse of what it was like. But it won’t match the experience of being there.
Would it help for me to say that it was like a foretaste of heaven? A multitude of Jesus’ believers gathered to hear Jesus’ Word and to join in communion with him and praise him by proclaiming the wondrous things he has done? But as good as it was, it wasn’t heaven. Yet it, just like every time we gather for worship, was a foretaste. And that is true whether it was 1200 people led by pipes and strings and brass and percussion or if it is 100 people in a city in the southwest. When we gather around Word and Sacrament we are as close as we get to Jesus this side of heaven—intimately connected to him through his means of grace.
But it is precisely because our worship is such an important event (even when it’s a smaller group with more modest accompaniment) that we give this event our attention. That’s what makes it so important to learn about worship and music—so that in our worship the gospel predominates, the people of God can participate, the history of the church is honored, and that the best gifts of God are employed.
I am very excited about the contents of the new Supplement
that was highlighted at the conference. There are many wonderful hymns in this publication and I’m looking forward to making use of them.
The two images in this post are from previous conferences. I’m actually in both of the pictures. While I enjoyed participating the services in past conferences, it was kind of nice not to have any real responsibilities at the conference so that I could just attend. It was really nice to visit with so many people, including many classmates, some members of former congregations, and most of my siblings. Some of those I knew were coming; others were an unexpected treat.