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Rediscover The Forgotten Joys Of Christmas Caroling

photo 3People often debate the merits of modern Christmas traditions, but there is one tradition that, while less common than in past years, is alive and well among Sojourners: Christmas caroling.

Sojourners love getting together in groups, walking around our neighborhoods and singing of our savior’s birth. And it may surprise you to learn that many of these neighbors love it too! Here are a few testimonies from this past Wednesday’s Sojourn caroling, around the Midtown Campus neighborhoods:

• At least three groups had folks come out of their homes and finish the caroling routes with them, to sing to their neighbors. A couple even came back to the church building and hung out with us as we ate cookies and drank hot chocolate.

• A neighborhood lady who we’ve struck up a relationship with came to sing with us. Despite intense back pain, she walked the whole route and joyfully sang every note with us. She said she “wouldn’t have missed it.” She also knew many of the folks we were singing to, including her brother, who began to call the rest of their family and tell them what was happening.

• According to one Shelby Park Sojourner, one of her neighbors was literally jumping for joy when they started caroling.

• One elderly woman told a group, with tears in her eyes, that she hadn’t seen anything like this in 40 years.

These stories are just a few of the reasons why I’m glad that caroling is a yearly tradition at all of our campuses. We certainly have enough community group leaders and families to cover some serious ground.

Tips for caroling:

  • Be friendly, Christmas is a time of celebration and these songs are to enjoyed.
  • Go as a good-sized group (6-15) that’s not overwhelming. Showing community like this is attractive and gives opportunity to show God’s love in relationship.
  • Have a short practice session indoors beforehand with copies of music lyrics available so everyone can learn together and also get to know each other.
  • Communicate with the houses you carol at clearly. If they enjoyed your group, have something to leave with them about your church, service times, location, contact information, etc. Our Christmas Eve invites (available each Sunday at the Welcome Table) will work great.
  • Write down address and names after your time caroling. Hopefully, you will have further interactions if they are your neighbors. Remembering names is great way to show compassion and intentionally.

What are some of your ideas or best practices in caroling? Any stories of how God has used caroling in your life or neighborhood?

Song Of Solomon Playlist – Your Songs Of Marital Faithfulness And Family

al-green-s-let-s-stay-together-620x350This weekend we finished our sermon series on the Song of Solomon at Sojourn Gathered. Via Twitter and Facebook, I asked you to nominate your “favorite songs of marital faithfulness and family” for an imaginary playlist to Song of Solomon. Here are your choices:

  1. Memories Are Made Of This by Johnny Cash
  2. I Wanna Marry You Again by Derek Webb
  3. Ballad Of Love And Hate by the Avett Brothers
  4. Rain Or Shine by Matthew Perryman Jones
  5. Everything I Do, I Do It For You by Bryan Adams
  6. I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders
  7. Let’s Stay Together by Al Green
  8. Faithfully by Journey
  9. Better Love by Drew Holcomb
  10. (Happy To Be) Stuck With You by Huey Lewis and the News
  11. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye
  12. Roll To The Middle by Sarah Groves
  13. I Will Be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman
  14. My Front Porch Lookin’ In by Lonestar
  15. I Swear by All-4-One
  16. Water Under The Bridge by Jars Of Clay
  17. She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy by Kenny Chesney
  18. Forever And Ever, Amen by Randy Travis
  19. On The Other Hand by Randy Travis
  20. Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley
  21. I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You by Elvis Presley
  22. She Loves Me Like Jesus Does by Eric Church
  23. From This Moment On by Shania Twain
  24. Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
  25. Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
  26. Hard To Love by Lee Brice
  27. Where The Green Grass Grows by Tim McGraw
  28. I Am Your Man by Ryan Shaw
  29. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her by Simon and Garfunkel
  30. Dancing In The Minefields by Andrew Peterson
  31. Hold Up My Arms by Andrew Peterson
  32. Your Man by Josh Turner
  33. In Spite Of Ourselves by John Prine
  34. The Whipping Post by the Alman Brothers
  35. Holy Ground (hymn)
  36. God Gave Me You by Dave Barnes

Let’s keep it going in the comments! What have we missed? What should we add to this playlist?

You Voted – Here Is Your Song Of Solomon Wedding Songs Playlist

carpenters-weve-only-just-begun-1970-3This weekend we continued our sermon series on the Song of Solomon at Sojourn Gathered. Via Twitter and Facebook, I asked you to nominate your “favorite wedding songs” for an imaginary playlist to Song of Solomon, which follows on the heels of last week’s “Favorite Songs Of Romantic Longing.” Here are your wedding song choices:

Forever by Ben Harper

Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

We’ve Only Just Begun by the Carpenters

Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis

Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley

Honeymoon Blues Robert Johnson

Follow Me by John Denver (as covered by the Innocence Mission)

Postcards From Italy by Beirut

Something, by the Beatles

Let It Be Me by Collin Raye

Jump, Little Children by By The Way They Dance

Let’s keep it going in the comments! What have we missed? What should we add to this playlist?

Song Of Solomon Playlist: Your Favorite Songs Of Romantic Longing

Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach BoysThis week we began a sermon series on the Song of Solomon at Sojourn Gathered. Via Twitter and Facebook, I asked you to nominate your “favorite songs of romantic longing” for an imaginary playlist to Song of Solomon. Here are your choices:

  • Hungry Eyes by Eric Carman
  • Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys
  • Slow Hand by the Pointer Sisters
  • Lay You Down by Conway Twitty
  • Oh Sheila by Ready For The World
  • Love Is Waiting by Brooke Fraser
  • I’m On Fire by Bruce Springsteen
  • Tonight You Belong To Me by Steve Martin
  • 13 by Big Star
  • Crush by Dave Matthews Band
  • I Burn For You by The Police
  • To Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan
  • Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers
  • A Love Supreme by John Coltrane
  • Beginnings by Chicago
  • I Love You, Period by Dan Baird
  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel
  • My All by Mariah Carey

What else? Have we left off anything that should be on this playlist? Let me know in the Comments!

 

 

Sojourner Stories of Suffering: Death Of A Child, And Worshiping In The Dust

Stories of Suffering

During this season of Lent, we journeyed together through the Book of Job. It’s a story of suffering, faith, questions, and one man who cries out to God in the midst of heartbreaking affliction.

I’ve shared stories of “suffering well” with you, from Sojourners at each of our campuses and from brothers and sisters that have come to know Christ through Sojourn International, our missions ministry.

Here is one more in this week before Easter, known as Holy Week in the Christian Calendar. This testimony comes from Kristen Gilles, one of our worship leaders at Sojourn New Albany. The Sojourn Music band has recorded the new song “Bless The Lord Who Gives And Takes,” based on the Book of Job. Kristen wrote the song with her husband Bobby after losing their newborn. You can hear “Bless The Lord Who Gives And Takes” at KristenGilles.com.

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“My dear friend, when grief presses you to the dust, worship there! . . . Remember the exhortation of the Psalmist David, “Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:8). When you are bowed down beneath a heavy burden of sorrow, worship and adore God there. In full surrender to His divine will, say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). This kind of worship subdues the will, arouses the affections, stirs the whole mind, and presents you to God in solemn consecration. This worship sweetens sorrow and takes away its sting.

– Charles Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters

When I first read these words I imagined myself literally pressed to the ground, with a mouth full of dust, crippled under the weight of an immovably heavy burden of grief, specifically the suffering brought on by the unexpected death of my infant son, Parker, who was stillborn after living 42 weeks in my womb.  Then I imagined myself mustering praises to God from this posture in my current assignment of suffering. With my face smashed against the ground and struggling between breaths I pursed my lips in praise, declaring the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord who had saved me and saved Parker and has been our Refuge all of our days.

What I’ve just described is precisely how I felt the day that Parker was stillborn and in the following days, weeks and months. As difficult as this season of suffering has been, when I consider the goodness and love of the Lord, I am convinced that the most appropriate response for us is to praise the Lord.  He proved Himself to be faithful and true long before He ordained this suffering in our lives.  He hasn’t broken any of His promises or abandoned our souls to the grave.  He has been our shield, our strength, our healing, our help, and our exceedingly great reward.  He has demonstrated thoroughly that He is who He says He is; and He is worthy to be praised and loved and trusted.

This worshipful response has not been empowered by any denial of the pain pressing on my heart, nor is it made possible by my “amazing” faith.  This response is fueled by the life that I now live hidden in Christ, the Man of Sorrows who suffered in my place and bore all of my sorrows and pain in His own body when He was killed upon the Cross, punished for MY sins.  Because of Christ, I am able to worship the God who loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to take away the sins of the world.  Jesus gave His life for me and He took away all my condemnation and shame; He canceled once and for all the record of my insurmountable debt of sin!  Because of Christ, I will bless the Lord who gives and takes.

“Lord, You gave and You took,
Somehow for our good;
Our eyes burn with tears
But they turn to You:

“Help is coming from our God who saves,
Who has numbered all our days,
Bless the Lord who gives and takes!
Man of Sorrows, You have borne our pain,
You have suffered in our place,
Bless the Lord who gives and takes!”

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