Worship is Intimacy

April 26, 2012

W.O.W. – Faith United Methodist Church “Way of Worship” Vol. 1. No. 7

Hi friends,

If you’ve been able to join us for the last couple of Friday night contemporary worship services (aka “The Gathering”) you already know what a wonderful time of worship, prayer and reflection we’ve been experiencing together.  The Gathering has been attracting people of all ages and backgrounds who enjoy getting together to experience the presence of God.  This week we’ll be continuing our series “What is Worship” by looking at the theme of intimacy.  There’s something about that word that just seems so….intimate!

Intimacy with God is something we should all desire as believers.  Although we most often think of intimacy in a romantic sense, the Random House dictionary defines it as “closeness, familiarity, warmth, affection.”  These four words are all very appealing to me as I think about what it means to have a relationship with God.  God isn’t some distant stoic guy with a beard up in the sky who throws lightning bolts down on us to punish us.  He’s a loving parent who wants the best for us, desires to know us, and desires that we know him.  One of the ways we can proactively cultivate that kind of intimacy is through worship.

This week we’ll be singing a song at The Gathering worship service called “Breathe,” written by Kathryn Scott.  It says:

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I, I’m desperate for You
And I, I’m lost without You

In other words, our relationship with God should be like air and food.  We need it to survive.  We depend on it with all our being to sustain us.  Without him, we are desperate and lost.  That’s hardly the kind of longing we would have for an unfeeling and distant God.  Instead, it’s the way we would think about and speak about a very deep love – the deepest and greatest love ever known to humankind.  Please enjoy this link to “Breathe” and I’ll look forward to singing it out together on Friday night at 7:30 pm at The Gathering worship service.

Many blessings,
Scott B.

(Scott Bomar is the Contemporary Worship & Praise Leader at Faith UMC in Torrance, CA)


Worship is Response

April 18, 2012

W.O.W. – Faith United Methodist Church “Way of Worship” Vol. 1. No. 6

If you were able to join us last Friday night for the launch of The Gathering: Contemporary Praise & Prayer Service you know what a great time of worship, prayer, and reflection we enjoyed together. We began the great adventure of this new service by reflecting on the question “What is worship?” Last week we focused on the theme of worship as surrender. This Friday we’ll be turning our attention to the idea that worship is a response.

Have you ever been offered a nice compliment, or given a generous gift by someone? Did you proceed to stare at that person with a blank look and say nothing? Of course not! There are certain social situations where a response is required. It would be strange NOT to respond! As Christians we recognize that God showers us with the gifts of his love, mercy, provision, grace, and tender care. One of the many ways we can respond to his generosity is through our worship. Worship takes many forms, but one of the ways many us feel connected to the Lord is through music. There’s something about music that gets right to the heart. In fact, singing is one of the only things we read about in the Bible that we know we’ll be doing in heaven, but that we also have the opportunity to do right here and now. Isn’t that cool?

One of my favorite worship leaders, Chris Tomlin, has a song called “How Can I Keep From Singing?” It’s the ultimate song of response to God’s goodness. It’s an attitude of “How can I stop myself?” I’m challenged to cultivate that spirit of worshipful response in my own life. If you’re able to join us on Friday night you’ll get the chance to sing it with us. If not, please enjoy this link to the words and music and take some time right now to pause and respond to God in this moment.

Many blessings,
Scott B.

(Scott Bomar is the Contemporary Worship & Praise Leader at Faith UMC in Torrance, CA)

Worship is Surrender

April 11, 2012

W.O.W. – Faith United Methodist Church “Way of Worship” Vol. 1. No. 5

Welcome to the latest edition of the Faith UMC Way of Worship.  As a reminder, this Friday we’ll officially launch “The Gathering Praise & Prayer Service” at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary.  This will be an intimate time of contemporary worship and prayer (with a brief reflection) in a relaxed and informal setting.  We’re hopeful that The Gathering will do two things:

1.  Help those of us who are already believers grow deeper in our faith as we start the weekend off right by drawing closer to God through music and prayer.
2.  Help us go farther into our community by drawing in those who might be longing to connect with God but don’t feel as comfortable in a traditional Sunday morning church setting.

Even if you’re not sure The Gathering is something you want to participate in for the long haul, we encourage you to join us for the first few weeks to get a feel for it and to give us your feedback as we continue to shape and mold it into exactly what God wants it to be.  We also encourage you to invite your friends who might not already be plugged in to the life of the church.

For the first six weeks of The Gathering Praise & Prayer Service we’ll be focusing on the theme “What is Worship?”  We’ll start this week with “Worship is Surrender.”  For me, the word “surrender” brings up images of  defeated soldiers coming out of their fox holes with their hands up and waving a white flag.  The message is, “OK, you’ve got the best of us.  We’re not going to struggle against you anymore.”  Obviously we are not engaged in a battle with God, but sometimes we like to do things our own way and ignore his presence and direction in our lives.  Surrendering to him is about listening for that still, small voice and seeking the divine hand in our lives each day.  It’s about saying, “OK, I’m not going to struggle against you.  Instead, I want to be connected to you and sense your leading in my life.”  One of the things we do to put ourselves in a mindset of surrendering is to simply set aside time to spend in God’s presence.  When we are connected with him it’s difficult for us to fool ourselves into thinking we’re really in control.

The Bible tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.”  It doesn’t say that nothing bad will ever happen to us.  It doesn’t say we won’t experience pain, loss, frustration, grief, disappointment, fear, anger, setbacks and heartbreak.  But it does say that God is continually working for good – even in the face of all the junk life can throw our way.  Isn’t that encouraging?  No matter what happens, God is still in control.  As we learn to surrender to him we begin to feel aligned with his purposes and we start to see him at work each day in our real lives.  Before long, we are able to sense his presence in every move we make.  And that brings us to our song of the week.  It’s a fun, upbeat song with a very serious message of surrender.  You can hear the David Crowder Band’s live version of “Every Move I Make” via the link below and then you’ll have the chance to sing it with us on Friday night!  I hope I’ll see you there.

Many blessings,
Scott B.

(Scott Bomar is the Contemporary Worship & Praise Leader at Faith UMC in Torrance, CA)

W.O.W. – Faith United Methodist Church “Way of Worship”  Vol. 1. No. 4

Welcome to this very special Holy Week edition of the Way of Worship devotion series.  I’d like to invite you to join me this coming Friday night at 7:30 PM in the sanctuary at Faith UMC for a contemporary Good Friday worship gathering.  We’ll be singing the songs from the last two W.O.W. emails as well as the song from this week’s edition – plus a few others.  Rev. Ken will be sharing a brief meditation and it will be a wonderful time to gather together as we reflect on the meaning of the cross.

What’s So Good About Good Friday?

Have you ever wondered why we call the Friday before Easter “good?”  What’s good about torture, humiliation, crucifixion and death?  We don’t call it good Friday because we want to celebrate suffering.  No, we call it “good” because, were it not for Friday, we wouldn’t have Easter Sunday.  In order for Christ to conquer sin, death and darkness, he first had to enter into it – wholly and completely.  He took all that ugliness and pain on himself so that we don’t have to.  What Jesus suffered was bad – even unimaginable.  But what it means for you and me is good because he was motivated by a love so deep, so complete, and so all-encompassing that’s it’s almost impossible to comprehend.

As we reflect on his sacrifice this week, I urge you not to rush ahead to the celebratory tones of Easter Sunday.  Spend some time meditating on the very real love-motivated sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  When we gather this Friday we’ll be singing a song by Kathryn Scott called “At the Foot of the Cross.”  The lyrics challenge us to linger “at the foot of the cross” as we remember that through his death we have life.  That liberating truth allows us to release our burdens and gives us the confidence to reaffirm our trust in the One who loves us so much that he was willing to give up his own life for you and me.

Following is a link to “At the Foot of the Cross” on Youtube, as well as the lyrics.  I look forward to singing it together on Friday.

Many blessings,

At The Foot Of The Cross

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received
And You’ve won my heart
And You’ve won my heart

Now I can trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of Mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death You bore for me
And You’ve won my heart
And You’ve won my heart

(Scott Bomar is the Contemporary Worship & Praise Leader at Faith UMC in Torrance, CA)

At The Foot Of The Cross

As you know, I came on board the Faith UMC staff at the end of last year to help develop and implement opportunities for contemporary worship and praise. After much prayer, discussion, and brainstorming on the part of our church leaders, I’m thrilled to announce that we’ll be launching a regular Friday evening worship gathering each week at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary. Focused on praise and prayer, these opportunities to meet together will be relaxed and informal. Below are the “Five W’s” you’ll need to prayerfully decide if you want to join us. Even if you’re not able to be with us on Fridays, please help spread the word!

WHO? All ages – from little kids to those over 100 – are encouraged to join us, but child care will not be provided. This gathering is appropriate for long-time church members who want to enjoy a different kind of praise experience in addition to their Sunday morning worship. It’s also a great opportunity to invite friends who might not be comfortable in a traditional church setting, but who are interested in exploring our faith. All are welcome!

WHAT? Generally these praise and prayer gatherings will last for about an hour and will be informal. We’ll sing several songs, allow time for prayer, and be encouraged by a brief meditation. There will not be a sermon. Participants will be encouraged to share prayer requests, praises or testimonies if they feel comfortable doing so. But don’t worry! You won’t be put on the spot. The idea is to give us time and space to enjoy the presence of God in a very natural and relaxed way.

WHERE?  Each praise and prayer gathering will be in the sanctuary at Faith UMC.

WHEN?  We’ll meet every Friday night at 7:30 pm. We’ll start on April 6th with a special contemporary Good Friday service and then begin the regular Praise & Prayer gatherings on April 13th.

WHY?  Psalm 144:9 says, “I will sing a new song to you, my God.” As believers we’re always searching for new and fresh ways to connect with our Savior. Jesus reminds us that the only things that matter in life are loving God and loving our neighbors. This new worship gathering is an additional opportunity for us to simply spend time with God as we allow him to mold us and strengthen that love relationship. It’s also a great chance to reach out to our neighbors as we offer them a forum to connect with the God who loves them more than they could imagine. Plus, we’re going to have a lot of fun together as we explore new ways of worship! I hope you’ll consider joining us for the 7:30 pm gatherings on April 6th (Good Friday) and April 13th (the first of our regular Praise & Prayer events) to experience this opportunity for yourself. I know it will be a blessing. If you have any questions or would like to participate (as a singer or musician, or in a support role) please let me know! I’d love the chance to talk further.

Many blessings
Scott Bomar

(Scott Bomar is the Contemporary Worship & Praise Leader at Faith UMC in Torrance, CA)

Nothing But The Blood

March 28, 2012

W.O.W. – Faith United Methodist Church “Way of Worship” Vol. 1. No. 3

Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to suffer through such a horrific death on the cross? As we reflect on his sacrifice during this season of Lent, I am reminded of the words of an old hymn that was written in 1876 called “Nothing But the Blood.” It’s a beautifully simple song consisting of only two chords and a five note range, but it’s not one we hear very often anymore. It seems a bit uncomfortable to sing about blood, doesn’t it? Maybe even a little weird! Sometimes, however, it’s the theological realities that we find a little unsettling that are the most important for us to pause and absorb. The lyrics say:

What can wash away my sin? / Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again? / Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Oh, precious is the flow / That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know / Nothing but the blood of Jesus
For my pardon, this I see / Nothing but the blood of Jesus
For my cleansing this my plea / Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Nothing can for sin atone / Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Naught of good that I have done / Nothing but the blood of Jesus
This is all my hope and peace / Nothing but the blood of Jesus
This is all my righteousness / Nothing but the blood of Jesus

The reality is that we, as humans, have a broken relationship to God thanks to the fact that we are inclined toward sinfulness and selfishness. In response, throughout the Hebrew Bible, we find God’s people offering animal sacrifices to Him as a ritualistic act of atonement. But that couldn’t bring about the relational reconciliation of “once and for all” atonement. In the grandest irony of all, God’s sacrifice – and not ours – was his plan for restoring the balance. He allowed his son to die to receive all the punishment for all the sins that would ever be committed. Jesus became the scapegoat for every last one of us. It was through that sacrifice – that shedding of blood – that we were made as clean as snow. Singing about blood might feel strange, but what we’re really singing about is the greatest act of sacrificial love in human history. We’ll be doing an updated version of this song at the contemporary Good Friday service at 7:30 pm on April 6th.

In the mean time, I hope you’ll enjoy this link, and maybe even sing along with a new perspective.

Many blessings,
Scott Bomar

(Scott Bomar is the Contemporary Worship & Praise Leader at Faith UMC in Torrance, CA)

Lead Me to the Cross

March 21, 2012

W.O.W. – Faith United Methodist Church “Way of Worship” Vol. 1. No. 2

Welcome to the second edition of the “Faith UMC Way of Worship (W.O.W.),” a mid-week communication designed to encourage us as we seek to incorporate worship into our daily lives – at work, at school, at home, or wherever we may be!  Generally, it will be a meditation focused on the lyrics of a particular song, along with some relevant Scripture.  When possible, I’ll provide a link to the song so you can hear it and will post the lyrics so you can follow along.  Even if you prefer traditional songs to contemporary worship selections, I think you’ll find these messages encouraging.

Lead Me to the Cross

This week’s “Way of Worship” meditation is built around the song “Lead Me to the Cross” by Brooke Fraser and the Hillsong United group.  The following link will take you to a YouTube video that pairs the song’s lyrics with scenes from the The Passion of the Christ.  Though conceived and directed by a flawed man, this film is the most powerful, unsettling, and moving depiction of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that I’ve ever seen.  I’ll warn you that some of the scenes in this video are difficult to watch.  Crucifixion isn’t pretty.  Our own sins and shortcomings that were conquered on that cross are not pretty.

Sometimes the season of Lent can bring up difficult emotions as we reflect on the true meaning of the cross.  There were dark moments before the triumphant resurrection, but the words of this song remind us that it’s a real part of the Christian story.  The lyrics encourage us to present ourselves to God with a mindfulness of the sacrifice of Calvary.  It’s the place where Christ suffered for you.  And for me.  For every single individual human life.  And he still would have done it if you were the only one on earth.  It’s breathtaking when we pause to reflect on it.

At the core, this song is about letting go of all those earthly things we are tempted to cling to – the things we think bring us comfort and meaning.  A career.  A nice car.  A great house.  The right social group.  An impressive list of personal accomplishments.  Any of these things can become idols when they begin to shape our identity.  As we humble ourselves before God and ask him to lead us back to the cross, we must empty ourselves and ask those difficult questions about identity.  Who am I?  Whose am I?  As we reflect on “Lead Me to the Cross” my prayer is that the God of mercy would lead us back to his heart for what really matters in the shadow of the greatest sacrifice of love in human history.

Many blessings,

Lead Me to the Cross

Savior I come
Quiet my soul remember
Redemptions hill
Where Your blood was spilled
For my ransom
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as lost

Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

You were as I
Tempted and trialed
You are
Te word became flesh
Bore my sin and death
Now you’re risen

To your heart
To your heart
Lead me to your heart
Lead me to your heart

(Scott Bomar is the Contemporary Worship & Praise Leader at Faith UMC in Torrance, CA)