As you may know if you’ve read my blog before, I have the privilege of being on the worship team at Hope. I get to help lead music at Hope’s worship services multiple times a week. It is my favorite thing that I do at Hope. When I look back on my time in college, I am pretty positive that this will be the thing that I think of, even though I was only on the team for one year. It has been a privilege and a blessing to work with such wonderful people day after day, all for the glory of the Lord that we love. I am thankful.
Last night, the two worship teams combined our seniors (since this is my last semester on the team due to my early graduation, I count!) and came together for our last Gathering rehearsal (the Gathering is our big Sunday night service, and the final one of the year is on Sunday). It was fun to play with a couple people that I do not normally see as much since they are on the other team, and I am thankful to get to call the people on this team some of my best friends. My team, Team Y (or Ysenhower, as I like to call us), also had our last service together as a full team yesterday at chapel. In light of these endings, I thought it would be appropriate to rehearse the faithfulness of the Lord in this post and to name some of the things that I’ve had the privilege to see him do throughout my time on worship team this year!
What I’ve Learned on Worship Team
- People you’ve never seen before in your life can become a family with whom you feel at rest, at ease – like you can heave the sigh that’s been growing in the pits of your soul for the past week and finally let it go. It is a gift and a blessing.
- Meeting with people multiple times a week at 7 a.m. when you just rolled out of bed at 6:55 is the best thing. Few things bond you like, in the words of one campus staff member, “seeing each other when you’re nasty.”
- Prayer is powerful. When I’ve asked for bold clarity from the Lord this year, I’ve seen it, and I’m thankful.
- The Lord will sustain us through things we did not think were possible. Last year I had a node on my vocal cords and did not talk for a week in order to treat it. After that, my voice was super out of shape and I would go stand in the congregation at the Gathering, unable to even sing through three songs in a row during worship. Now I sing more songs than that in one rehearsal, and I am able to do so healthily.
- Being a worship leader is a really cool job that I might actually want on an even longer-term basis. It doesn’t just entail a person who shows up to do music on Sundays; there is room for a worship leader to be someone who shepherds people through life if they have the desire to do so and if the Lord gives them the opportunity (notes from Zac Hicks and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, where this year’s seniors were thankful to help lead some services and attend some sessions).
- The words we say and sing and repeat in worship are immensely important. They get stuck in our heads and begin to shape our perceptions and our faith lives in powerful ways. We have to be conscious of the things that we are saying and the things that we are leading other people in saying – are they true? Are they good? Do they reflect the character of God? If we are not sure, then perhaps we should pick different words (Christopher Williams reminded us of this in powerful ways).
- Lemonjello’s and Stovetop Roasters are important. But if I finish my cup of coffee within 30 minutes of starting Chapel, my voice and body both feel shaky. Bonus points if I decided to wear some sort of heels that day.
- It’s cool to have recordings of music that you made. It’s cooler to have recordings of music that your friends made and that you made with your friends. The recording of “All Thy Fullness” on this year’s worship team CD, Fairer, will always make me cry because I can just hear the love of the team and their love for the Lord.
- Visual art, dance, sign language, and far more are forms of worship too. It is powerful to be able to partner with people who are practicing worship differently than you are and to come alongside one another and work together in leading (Silent Praise, Sacred Dance).
- Say thank you often. More things than you consider probably go into any given thing that you do. Think hard about the process. Who set up my microphone at 6:30 a.m. before I showed up to rehearsal? Who printed out my lead sheets? Who wrote the song, and what verses and experiences shaped it?
- Change and new things are good. So are old classics. May “All Hail Christ” never die.
- I am confident that I have seen and will continue to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. This team, the chaplains over at Campus Ministries, the tech team, the people who clean Dimnent Chapel, the people who write our music (some of whom, like Sandra McCracken, we’ve gotten to meet and even play with!) and the students of Hope College who worship with us have all had huge parts in helping me to see this. It has been unforgettable, impactful, and glorious to watch heaven come down to the earth around us. As our worship leader, Bruce, often says, Dimnent Chapel has become a thin place countless times this year – where the distance between heaven and earth becomes marginal because the presence of the Lord is so evident. The Lord is near to us. It is a gift to see this so often and to know that he has truly never left us alone. All the fullness of the Lord is here among us.
I could go on forever, but I have to get on to some final projects (and I don’t want to cry in Starbucks this morning), so I’ll leave this here. Thank you for reading.
If you’re interested in worship at Hope, tweet me at @hopekathryn17, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out this year’s albums, Fairer and Beatitudes EP, and check out the Campus Ministries website!
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”