Song writing has always been a part of how CHS expresses itself in worship to God. There have many songs that have been written through the different seasons of the church that have spoken to people and circumstances and encouraged people to seek God deeper and more meaningfully when they worship. It is such a special heritage and continues to be something we are trying to press into as a worship team and a community.
This is not just about singing pretty songs written by people we know, but this is a fundamental part of the greater vision of the Life Centre. We believe that we are called to be a people of many nations and a people that are actively involved in the world around us. Part of being involved in these things is addressing them in our worship. How can we say we stand for justice if we do not lament the injustices we see? How can we celebrate God’s Kingship without humbly coming and saying, “Have Your Way in us?” We also believe that our worship should reflect the diversity within our church and the different shared experiences of how we engage in worship with one another. We cannot say we celebrate diversity and only worship in one style or language. We need to press into these things both with our minds and our hearts, and so it needs to be part of our creativity and our musical and artistic expressions of worship.
Lastly, I do believe that God has gifted many in our congregation with wonderful gifts of all kinds and part of the vision of the Life Centre is creating opportunities and sustained provision for people to continue to explore those talents and giftings and be able to honour God in them but to also be able to feed their families. Discipleship as well as economic stability. And this is also true for those who have been gifted to create and write worship songs.
God has been moving among us – there have been numerous songs written over the last few years that really speak into where we find ourselves as a community. Songs written from stories shared, relationships that have been built and hearts that have been broken over the mess of the world around us. Not songs by one person only – though we have some of those – but also songs written in relationship with others when Spirit-inspired with a shared vision of what God is saying. We recently received our first of two bi-annual royalty payments from CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International), and I was so surprised by the amount of income we received! Only God! We have not advertised or made a point of sharing our songs, but people have been using them. It was such a joy to be able to share that with those who helped to write the songs we have been singing.
I invite you to reflect on the one song we wrote Have Your Way and ask you how is God calling you to use your gifts to challenge us as a community? To help us experience God in a new and deeper way? To equip others and build something new?
God bless you. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made for this season and time.
Cat and the Worship team
The Parish Worship Night collaborations have emerged from a number of stories that have somehow come together at a time when we have been forced to be away from each other and stay in our corners rather than do something new and fresh. Some of those stories are being able to lead worship at different churches in the parish, young people gatherings and camps, staff prayer mornings, staff retreats and lots of other opportunities to have different people from all over the parish leading and worshiping together.
When Covid hit and things started to move online, there was a Good Friday Service that had been put together by the Parish Leadership Team, where all the Ministers shared on ‘Jesus’ Seven Words from the Cross’ and different worship leaders took part in the service. This was one of the most beautiful things to witness, as it gave a picture of “One Church with Six Expressions”. That was followed by a Worship Night that we premiered on Easter Sunday. And we followed that up with our first online Parish Worship Night on Pentecost.
At the time we recorded remotely and sent each other the music recordings and videos which were synced and edited together to try and make them sound decent. This evolved to what we now are now doing monthly, with in-person filming and recording, observing all Covid protocols. We hope to move to some sort of live streaming events soon.
But the Parish Worship Night is not just about a bunch of people who love Jesus and music, coming together to worship, and inviting those watching to join in – although it is all of those things too! It’s also about a variety of styles of music, leadership, experience and theology coming together, being embraced and challenged. We have had some meaningful engagements through devotion, conversation, prayer and we’ve also had new songs being written and shared over the past few months. In addition, we’ve started reading and engaging with a helpful book that focuses on diverse worship –The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, by Sandra Maria Van Opstal.
And so the Parish Worship Night has been a catalyst for more collaboration and exploration of skill sharing, exchange in musicians and singers across the Parish, song writing and developing a theology for our worship as Capetonians and South Africans that is different to other parts of the world. That has included challenging the style and language we have adopted formerly without questioning what it means for the communities we lead.
What we have witnessed and been part of, within and outside of our monthly gatherings, are a bunch of people who love God and so, too, love people, and have met through this common love for leading ourselves and others in worship. For the November collaboration, we managed to have a socially-distanced meal together as tangible way to be with each other around the same table because we actually also want to, as our friendships deepen.
written by Charlie Alexander
Youth Worker, St Peter’s Mowbray
Have Your Way – A Musical Prayer
Members of CHS sent in their versions of Have Your Way. We thought we could use it as a prayer, a corporate lament for all the wrongs we see, but also as a corporate commitment to look to Jesus and know that he is the only answer. This video is the result: not perfect but what we believe is a heart-felt cry to Jesus to come and have his way.
As we celebrate Advent, looking to when Jesus came as a baby and anticipating his future return, we can sing “Lord have your way” in the here and now. He is alive. His spirit is alive and real. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and his kingdom is alive and on the move. We may face some really tough times and difficult circumstances – the heavy weight of injustice, sickness, poverty and violence – but I believe God is at work and we can come before him in confidence that he will break all the chains that bind us. He will set us free. He will transform us and our communities into beacons of hope and light and love.
God bless you this Advent Season and Jesus, come have your way.