The Oceans of Life and Ministry and Worship
By Rob Durocher
Minister of Worship and the Arts, Deacon
These last few weeks our worship staff and pastors have been diligently working together sorting through and planning for re-entry to worship. We together (like you) continue to deal with life, ministry and worship in continual transition with COVID-19 and a tense social-political climate, and I think that we have all shared a sense of deep concern and of being a little overwhelmed. So much of what we used to know and faithfully do continues to shift and change right before us like the sands of the oceans, but our prayer and hope is that these changes and shifting sands are being directed by the Holy Spirit!
A few days ago while sitting on the beach and watching the powerful ebb and flow of the Atlantic Ocean, I thought about the correlation between these transitions of life, ministry, worship to the sands slipping into the sea and was reminded of a worship song that we have been singing in our contemporary service for some years called OCEANS (Where Feet May Fail). I also thought of St. Matthew’s text from chapter 14:28-29 when Peter sees Jesus walking on the water and Jesus calls to Peter to ‘come’, and Peter walks on the water to his Lord! The song ‘Oceans’ begins with the following words,
You call me out upon the waters,
the great unknown where feet may fail;
And there I find You in the mystery,
in oceans deep My faith will stand.
And I will call upon Your name.
And keep my eyes above the waves,
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
for I am Yours and You are mine.
The supernatural power of God was experienced by Peter to walk to Jesus because of his faith and trust. There in oceans deep, because of that faith was Jesus found ‘in the mystery’ by Peter, until he took his eyes off Jesus and felt the strength of wind, and his feet began to fail him. When Peter had faith, he walked on water. When he had fear, he began to sink in the water. He cried out to Jesus to save him, and Jesus stretched out his hand and saved Peter.
I’m pretty sure for those of us who minister in worship, music and the arts here at St. John’s there is an urgency to do something now, do something more, begin all things again like gathering to worship, sing and witness in community and to ‘walk together on the water of uncertainty – where feet may fail.’ And yet, here we are in the third quarter of ‘waiting on the beach’ watching the ocean waves crash around us, watching the sands slip away into the ocean and still listening to the sounds of the seas. I wonder though if this is how God is speaking to us, and calling us to holy moments in the sounds of the ocean as God calls us out upon the waters into a new day and to remind us to keep our eyes upon him and to find him in the mystery of these moments.
Even the calmest of waters, the gentlest of waves or command of the ocean’s tide or its ability to consume us is not in our control and yet in our worship we sing that God’s love is like the ocean, filling the very void and space of our emptiness with power and completeness because it is powerful and complete.
If these were ‘normal’ days, we would already be settling into our summer worship and community activities, sharing upcoming worship and arts events for the rest of the season and preparation for Fall ministry. These are not normal days, though we continue to have great hope and expectation for a faithful and safe return of worship opportunities together and to continue streaming our 11 am worship service! Our choirs, ensembles and choruses, when it is safe for them to resume, will no doubt look and sound a little different even as our worship and music partners feel an empty space in their lives where such activities once thrived! Right now there’s a feeling that like children at the beach we’re running in and out of the ocean waves not yet able to dive back in, but we can still emerge ourselves into the awesomeness of God’s presence each day through prayer, worshipping with family, small groups or however you can safely do this together!
The lyrical bridge in the song OCEANS has this plea:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
let me walk upon the waters
wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
in the presence of my Savior.
Who would have thought that we’d still be living in a day of indecision about doing the right thing in life and worship matters and yet here we are, having been led to a time when our trust is without borders and we are being taken deeper than our feet ever thought to wander and still our faith is being made stronger in our Savior’s presence!
As the Holy Spirit navigates us through rough currents and we look for a return to worship, slowly, safely but surely, let’s continue to be bold in preparing ourselves to do things we might not have done before or aren’t used to with a strong faith while keeping our eyes above the waves, and to walk out to where feet may fail, knowing God is always with us in our walk as he walks with us and as we worship!
A Note About Worship:
Join us each Sunday for worship online at 11 am on Facebook Live, YouTube, and stjohns-salisbury.org.
Join us for Contemporary Worship, Sundays at 9:27 am for a smaller, gentler gathering for prayer, song, and hearing God’s Word. Please note that masks are required, seating is spaced, and you might want to bring your own bible. If re-entering public worship is right for you, join us! And be confident that we’ve worked with medical professionals to create the safest possible environment for our church family.
All other in-person worship services have been postponed until a later date. On Wednesday, July 22, we will begin a simple, 30-minute service of holy communion in the chapel (12:15-12:45 pm). This mid-week service will continue each Wednesday, and since it’s designed with our older members in mind, please note that we’ll be following strict guidelines for creating safe worship space, including the wearing of masks and social distancing.
Please watch for weekly email updates in the FatihLife. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.