It's probably a factor of the very little sleep I was going on today, but this first day of the Calvin Symposium on Worship 2009 felt even longer than usual. But GOOD long! It was a very full day of seminars and worship services, plenary and breakout sessions, conversations and reconnections.
It started off with quite a bang. The Opening Worship service was wonderful as always, with some terrific worship leadership from a couple (literally) of dear friends - Ron and Debra Rienstra. Their new book Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry (Baker Academic, 2008) was one of the free featured books! I pretended I was getting it for free because Marla and I are mentioned in the acknowledgements. :) They put their hard work to action, crafting and using some rich, creative, thought-provoking words to guide us through several portions of the worship service.
It's a really fantastic resource, and I highly reccommend it!
The Rev. Dr. M Craig Barnes was our preacher for that service this morning, kicking off a three days of worship services each centered on a different parable of Jesus'. Craig's parable was the Parable of the Sower (or Soils or Seeds, depending on what your Sunday School teacher put on your flannelgraph). But what I really enjoyed was how he set-up the whole weekend of parables by describing parables as old family stories that get told again and again. Jesus' parables are the family stories of the Family of God. "They tell us who we are," he said. And each time you hear it you get something else out of it.
One of the facets Dr. Barnes highlighted for us this time around with this particular, familiar "family story" was the seemingly indescriminate sowing of the Sower, and the way in which that piece of the story reminds us of our one true hope : "this Savior who flings this grace so extravagantly."
This was one very full day of constant reminders of God's extravagant grace. I obviously have so much more to say about this day... wonderful encouragement and advice for song-writers from Greg Scheer, Rae Whitney and others; sharing and getting feedback on one of my own songs with the passionately Christ-centered Mark Altrogge; Keith Petersen's mohawk; new friends made and old friends embraced... but I'll have to save more thorough thoughts about these things for a later and less sleep-deprived date... er... state.
Tomorrow, Marva Dawn! :)
God's extravant grace and peace to you all!