Archive for March, 2014

Reflections on authentic night of gospel worship in New Orleans

There are certain full circle moments in one’s life that emerge with no foresight or planning. The NOBTS Seminarians had the great privilege tonight to sing with the Zion Harmonizers, a legendary New Orleans Gospel group, celebrating their 75th anniversary. We also had the great privilege of singing with about 40 men from Franklin Avenue to celebrate this joyous occasion. Most of my friends and students know that I am a native of New Orleans so I have always had a certain appreciation for this style of music. But being from New Orleans is not enough to put one in the place of being part of an event like we shared tonight. In fact, one who’s roots go back to rural Alabama on my dad’s side and rural MS on my mom’s side in MS hardly qualify me to be a gospel expert. And yet in God’s sovereignty I am a son of this incredible city. And being invited to share in this particularly event had nothing to do with wise planning by the conductor of Seminarians, yours truly. God used an extraordinary series of events that connected us to the producers of the event.

What many of us from New Orleans would love for people to know is there is a remnant of faith here. Yes, an ark of Saints who have endured and continue to endure many challenges in our city as we seek to be salt and light. In New Orleans taking a Puritan path would lead to very little success in terms of people coming to faith. Instead, what I like to call incarnational worship raises a sweet smell before the Lord when offered with sincerity, and the lost in our city see and hear that there is a deeper joy available in Christ that exceed the joy of getting a coconut at Zulu and life imperishable that sustains one through the darkest of tragedies unlike the fleeting moments of existential bliss when dancing to second line (one of my favorite things to do by the way). What probably affected me the most tonight–and their were, trust me on this, some awesome sounds literally coming out of the Joy Theater tonight, but what affected me the most was seeing the Franklin Avenue Men sing “I will Sing Hallelujah” with all their Heart Soul and Might before the Lord. I looked into the eyes of these men and realized that these Parthenons of faith in our community are surely burdened by the spiritual condition of their children, and grandchildren, and yet when they say, “I Will Sing Hallelujah” with a joyous shout, their thoughts are totally on the solution maker and not the problems or the burdens of this life. Praise be to God for their faith, and may we who live in this community of faith continue to support our brothers in Christ who are quite literally in the trenches. And may I close with a glimpse of heavenly song with the attached video clip. The men in this video singing “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More” represent various cultures in our own country and 5 continents. Keep living for Jesus and singing His praises and we will one day lay our burdens down: