History Through Worship: 20th Century

Tonight, April 10, 2014, the NOBTS Church Music Division will present “History through Worship.” The theme for this year’s concert is the “Twentieth Century.” The path of Western music certainly splintered upon its entry into the twentieth century. Within the category of art music two basic philosophies emerged.1 Some composers pursued the path of intellectual possibilities. For example, Shoenberg’s serial approach to pitch was an experiment in structural conception with little concern for the comfort of the listener. Conversely, other composers such as Stravinsky emphasized music that appeals to raw human emotions with works such as Rite of Spring.Eventually, Copeland become the leader of the Stravinsky camp, and the featured piece this evening, Rite of Spring, clearly falls into the Stravinsky/Copeland camp.2

The Requiem is certainly more diatonic than much of art music written in the 20th century. Furthermore, some 20th century composers found more fruitful territory by revisiting salient historical gestures than by experimenting with new sounds or ways of organizing sound. For example, the piece by Duruflécould be described at least in certain sections as Neo-Medieval. Kaye notes the “rhythm and flow” of chant as a primary feature in the overall construction of the piece.3 Yet the piece also has a clear twentieth century sound. For example, a section of the Kyrie is quite chromatic, and other sections include hyper-chromatic tertian harmonies as well as some use of quartel harmonies.4

However, the more important issue is how Duruflé uses these various colors in a relatively palatable manner to communicate hope in the context of a Requiem. Nineteenth-century composers were fascinated with the Requiem as a theological framework begging for weighty artistic material, and this trend continued into the 20th century. Duruflé’s setting, though not as weighty in comparison to other offerings from both the 19th and 20th centuries, carries an intimacy and worshipful atmosphere that is certainly reflective of the appropriate theological range of emotions one would expect for contemplations on death.

Another composer of note in this evening’s program is John Rutter. Rutter is perhaps the most celebrated and performed choral composer of the latter half of the twentieh century. Much of his much music is already considered enduring among the vast amount of choral music written between 1950 and the present.

Finally, the concert will feature a black gospel piece. Among the two general philosophies on twentieth music reviewed above, Duke Ellington’s purported “if it sounds good it is good” clearly fits in the early 20th century Stravinsky camp. And in a parallel sense, many Evangelical churches have adopted a philosophy on musical style that seeks to reflect the community of believers as long as worldly influence is held in check. The NOBTS Church Music Division celebrates both seminal historic works that have defined the musical culture of the church for 2000 years and  incarnational worship that defines our churches in the 21st century: Christocentric praise with cultural considerations.

       1 Tim Koch, Lecture on the evolution of 20th century, (lecture presented at the University of Southern Mississippi in the 1999 summer semester), Hattiesburg, MS.

2  “The Unanswered Question,” YouTube, last modified December 5, 2013, accessed April 9, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3HLqCHO08s; Bernstein offers an expanded review of these basic philosophies in a series of lectures that can be found on Youtube.

       3 Nicholas Kaye, “Durufle, Maurice,” in Oxford Music Online, ed. Deane Root et. al,accessed April 8, 2014, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grovemusic/08407q=durufle&search=quick&pos=2&_start=1#S08407.

       4 Luigi Zannenelli, An Introduction to Non-Functional 20th Century Harmony: A Manual, unpublished textbook, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg; this celebrated composer’s unpublished class notes for the class, 20th Century Harmony, included four categories: hyperchromatic tertian, quartal, twelve-tone, and polychordal.





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:

My Heart is Stirred by a Noble Theme

Well, it’s that time of year again in the NOBTS music division–we are working feverishly at preparing a night of worship that is entitled Crescent City Praise. This concert of worship will be presented Thursday evening, February 13, on the NOBTS campus. We’ve had a great week sitting under the leadership of Dr. Paul Clark, the TN Baptist Director of Music and Worship Ministries.

Dr. Clark challenged us from night one to move beyond laboriously trudging through notes toward expressions of worship through timeless anthem texts. As we seek to achieve that goal I was reminded in Psalms today that sometimes we are surprised with the passion of a strong theological theme as we do our spiritual routines. David says in Psalm 45 that “his heart is stirred by a noble theme as [he] recite[s] [his] verses for the king.” What we see here is that while the psalm writer is doing his due diligence to accomplish the task set before him, namely reciting verses for the king, he allows his heart to be stirred by noble themes.

What are noble themes? Noble themes are the timeless ideas we find in abundance in Psalms and throughout scripture; nobles themes are pillars upon which we can set our lives and ministries. As we move through the necessary disciplines of life, whether that be our daily devotion or learning  a bunch of notes for a night of worship, may we allow ourselves to be stirred by the noble themes that emerge ultimately in sacred text. Then our souls will be singing long after the final downbeat.

We hope you can join us in singing of the most noble theme of all, Jesus Saves! tomorrow night at CC Praise, Leavell Chapel, NOBTS campus, 7 PM, featuring student choir and community, student and community orchestra, and children’s and youth choirs.

Counter-cultural Movement in Worship

Ken Myers is certainly leading a counter-cultural charge in the area of worship, and I would say this movement is gaining a fair amount of steam. Although I certainly have  no issue and would even celebrate those who wish to worship in a traditional manner, I think we need to careful in how we determine which activities will be deemed “real” or “pure” worship. For a quick review and clip of Ken’s perspective, check out  the following link to SWBTS’s worship journal: Artistic Theologian.

The Christmas Feast: a Type of Love Feast

Could the Christmas feast be a modern version of the love feast? First I should briefly explain the historical background of the love feast. In the early church days, love feasts were a regular part of the Christian community.  The feast was a gathering of Christians over a meal, rejoicing in their oneness in Christ. Specifically the feast carries the idea that because Christ reigns, we are at peace with Him and with one another. It is even possible that the earliest love feasts were connected to the supper.

But is the idea of rejoicing through a community feast really new in the first century. The Old Testament reveals various times when a feast was used to celebrate the goodness of God and His desire to care for creation. In fact, Nehemiah explains that faith is actually required to recognize that when we come face to face with God’s holiness, he wants us to accept the forgiveness He wishes to offer and celebrate life with Him. Note that in Nehemiah 8: 8-12, this strategic leader in Israel, along with Ezra and the Levites, explained to the people that they should rejoice in the Lord when being confronted by the Law. Of course, it was natural for the Israelites to be overwhelmed with grief over their sins after hearing God’s Word read, but the leaders insist that God wants them to accept His forgiveness and rejoice as they feast together, remembering to help  provide for the poor of the community as well. Thus, it actually requires faith to feast with rejoicing with the Christian body.

But I know some of you are thinking, “I’ll grant you feasting under the ordained festivals outlined in the Word of God, but to extend the concept to rejoicing for this Christianized pagan holiday is a bit generous.” To answer that legitimate inquiry, I will defer to the great evangelical preacher of the 19th century, Charles Spurgeon.[1] On December 23, 1860, Spurgeon rightly, in my view, justified the Christian father providing a feast of rejoicing for his family, ultimately praising God as the giver of all good things.[2] So dads I implore you and myself to lead with a spirit of rejoicing this week. We are the worship leaders in our homes, and we reflect the provision and generosity of our Father by wishing the best over those whom God has given us to provide. There is perhaps no more poignant time to do this than during the Christmas feast(s), as we say with a clear conscious because of the blood of Christ: “We are forgiven and blessed beyond imagination. We rejoice now, merely glimpsing that great feast, which we will share with the eternal family of God one day in heaven.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of The Christmas Feast: a Type of Love Feast as I will be sharing a specific New Orleans feast tradition my father started about 35 years ago.

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., A Merry Christmas, A sermon delivered on December 23, 1860 at the New Park Street Pulpit: http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols7-9/chs352.pdf.

[2] By referencing fathers as providers, I in no way wish to diminish the godly sacrifice of our wives; rather, I wish to uphold the traditional role of the patriarch in a culture that wishes to undermine to the biblical principle of a father who is to be the picture of the Father.


Pluralism versus All Nations and Tongues Under the Lordship of Christ

I was first exposed to pluralism as a music education major in the 90’s in South Mississippi. The concept emerged in textbooks that referred to the now familiar American identity as a tossed salad rather than a melting pot. Particularly as an artist in higher education through the late 90’s and early 2000’s, world music and multiculturalism were constant themes. I actually took a world music class from a world-renown Balinese specialist at Florida State University in the early 2000’s. I was exposed to Gamelan, Hindi music, and expert Japanese fluting at that time. Later, during my Georgia era (I like to tell people I am cosmopolitan if you’re only talking about the SouthJ), I noted the abundance of cultural arrangements being sung by GA highschool choirs at the Georgia Music Educators State Convention each year.

I can honestly say that I am a fan of world music and multicultural perspectives in art after over 10 years of exposure. Often as evangelicals we find ourselves caught in the trap of only arguing against something (e.g., Pluralism) rather than making a distinctive Christian mark on the worldview landscape. As observed in Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer, in 1935 it was quite bold to say that all cultures should be treated with dignity and welcomed to the family of God, including local fellowships. The battle that Bonhoeffer and other  Western Christian thinkers began,  namely demanding and encouraging the  love of all cultures within and outside of the church, has been largely won in American churches.

Although fighting for the dignity of all world cultures will always be a battle in certain circles of hate, a much grander challenge among current competing worldview perspectives is that of finding the narrow path of a distinctively Christian response to Pluralism. Namely, the most compassionate and appropriate treatment of all cultures is found only under the Lordship of Christ. Realizing my last statement would be viewed as dogmatic by the world, let me follow it by insisting that there is no lack of free expression of culture within this Christian distinctive. But my mere words could hardly compel the skeptic, and I am convinced that in many cases Christian art representing the cultures of the world serves as a much stronger apologetic.

With this philosophical framework in mind, it is with great enthusiasm that NOBTS will present All Nations and Tongues at Canal Street Church: A Mosaic Community on November 14 at 7 PM. The concert will feature sacred and folk songs representing the  Chinese, Czechoslovakian, Jewish, Latino, South African, and Japanese cultures and  will be presented by the NOBTS Seminary Chorus and NOBTS Children’s and Youth Choirs. Canal Street Church is an intentional choice of setting as one of the most exciting new church starts in the New Orleans area. This is a church that is expressing the love of Christ for all the cultures of the world in tangible ways on a daily and weekly basis. Come celebrate the Lord of Creation with us in the heart of one of the most culturally rich cities in the world.

The End of Fairy Tales

Well, it appears we have reached the end of fairy tales in America. I have observed with increasing curiosity in recent months and years the proliferation of prequels, sequels, or other alterations of fairy tales (e.g., Once Upon a Time, Merlin, and Neverland). I will readily admit that several of these stories are quite interesting and entertaining. So my goal here is not be legalistic in saying families shouldn’t watch this or that altering of a fairy tale. Rather, I hope to offer an observation of the cyclical de-evolution of story in great societies. Bruno Snell, an important 20th century philologist ,observed that in Greek society tragedies progressed from  stories where good and bad were clearly defined (if you do good you are rewarded and  if you do  bad you are punished) to tragedies where it is hard to tell who the good and bad guys are (e.g., Oedipus Rex). Eventually tragedies by the Greeks become nothing more than social or philosophical commentary (e.g., Sophocles’ Frogs). So too art in America has devolved and has been devolving for some time. This reality can be observed by watching a few celebrated movies from each decades from the 60’s to the present. Note that I am not suggesting that humans are becoming more sinful but that we celebrate deviant lifestyles more and more as a society.

Furthermore, I am not suggesting that the altering of fairy tales in any way approaches the moral deviance of a Tarantino film, but certain foundations of Western cultures are, in my view, being pecked away—For example, in Once Upon a Tim e a vulnerable and disenchanted Snow White as a character trapped in the real world, decides to participate in a night of sexual pleasure with little regret. And the men are less sure of themselves than the portrayal of men in the original fairy tales. They aren’t exactly emerging as the hero to save the damsel in distress.

As a side note, do I have a problem with teaching girls to be confident and independent? Absolutely not, I have 3 girls of my own, and I hope that we are training them to be independent free creatures before Christ, ready to do His bidding. One or more of them may end up doing Kingdom work anywhere in the world. At it would be difficult to send them alone to some settings, but I want them to see folks like Lottie Moon as an ultimate hero (i.e., I am not seeking to lock them into a “I can only be happy if I have a family reality”). Now, for most women (same for most men) marriage is the best route to fulfilling Kingdom potential (see Paul’s writings on the issue). And I hope I teach them to have very high standards for the type of man they choose. I joke with Emma, oldest, that the man you marry needs to know more theology than you, and I guarantee this girl is going to know some theology before she leaves our home.


Now back to the issue of fairy tales. Plato noted the importance of monitoring the stories young people read. Note I am not suggesting a legalistic standard for adults, although we as adults need to be carefully monitoring what we watch as well. But Plato realized that a steady diet of complex tragedies, where good and bad are hard to distinguish, would create a morally weak citizen. If Plato could come to this conclusion without the Holy Spirit, surely we as Spirit-filled 21st century Christians can make healthier choices for our kids.

We try to not let legalism reign in  our house, but I will be encouraging my boys to at least read the real stories of King Author and Camelot before settling for the entertaining prequel “Merlin,” which clearly rides on the curtails of a legendary story line.

Thanksgiving at the Heart of Worship: A Tribute to Dottie Dupuy

I was reminded this past week in a profound way of the importance of having a thankful heart, particularly as related to worship. We often don’t think of a funeral as a worship event, but a funeral should be a worship experience, particularly when we are celebrating a life that was given to Christ. The Dupuy’s, dear friends of our family, lost a very special member of their family a few days ago. Mr. Dupuy worked for over 40 years at Avondale in New Orleans and through hard work attained the level of captain, but you would never know how seriously he took his job if you encountered Mr. Ronald in an informal setting. The reason you wouldn’t know of Mr. Dupuy’s  accomplishments is that he didn’t take himself too seriously. When you were around him he committed his energies to making you comfortable and he and Mrs. Dottie were bent on  making sure everyone had a good time. Trust me when I tell you these people defined hospitality with  particularly New Orleans flare. I also want to pay tribute to Mrs. Dottie as I continue to remember the joy Mr. Ronald brought to all those around him. I saw Dottie Monday night at the visitation, and I must admit I was not surprised at all by her attitude. She was genuinely grieving the loss of Mr. Ronald, but she expressed how thankful she was for the years they had together. She was demonstrating a spirit of deep abiding joy in the midst of pain, and this sweet aroma of worship was on display for friends and family. I told Dottie that I was not surprised to see her reaction for she has demonstrated a genuinely thankful attitude throughout her life. Then, the following day at the funeral Dottie continued  to display an incredible attitude of thankfulness in worship. She stated during the service as part of memorial comments that although their life together wasn’t perfect that she could hardly think of bad times. In fact, she noted that it would be unproductive to reflect for a moment on any negative memory because they were so blessed. I realized in reflecting on Dottie’s attitude and  comments that she was leading us all in worship. I must confess that I am not as thankful as I should be. No doubt that an attitude of thanksgiving for God’s provision in our lives is the key to living joyfully and expressing a spirit of worship in every word and action. I am particularly challenged by this living testimony right now as my Dad struggles with brain lymphoma. What is my attitude in this situation. Am I persisting in thankfulness as we see the tumors return now for the third time. Will I seek to model Mrs. Dottie’s attitude with the challenges that lie ahead. Specifically, will I choose to focus on how blessed I have been to have the incredible years I have had with my father, sincerely asking for more time but remaining grateful for every moment and day that is given from this  point forward.

Haydn’s Theresienmesse: An Artistic/Apologetic Tour De Force


Perhaps every generation of Christians since the 18th century has felt they are facing the epic battle of all battles in terms of faith versus science. Now, I personally don’t believe the two are opposed but that’s a topic for another day. In addition to engaging scientific arguments in a scientific manner, each generation of Christians who live among enlightened scientific thinkers(i.e., communities that consider themselves to be sophisticated observers of the natural world and scientific processes as they relate to how things work) must boldly proclaim faith, an intangible quality this side of heaven, as the most powerful reality in the universe.

Recently, there has been a call to respond to 21st century scientific thinkers who are relentlessly, dogmatically, and combatively committed to an atheistic view of the universe. We call these individuals the New Atheists. The responses in book form, at conferences, and increasingly in sermons are mounting. I contributed an artist’s response about a month ago at the Southwest ETS conference, which I plan to share on this blog in coming days.

Tonight the NOBTS Seminary Chorus will present a work that emerged during one of Western church’s  greatest periods of questioning. Certainly some enlightened thinkers sought to maintain faith in Christ, but many of the influential enlightened philosophers sought to destroy the foundations of Christianity. For example, even in America’s early days Thomas Paine wrote an influential work, Age of Reason, questioning the validity of the New Testament.

Responses in the Enlightenment by thoughtful Christian leaders were appropriate and well presented, but I would argue that the arts as well provided a meaningful response.

To illustrate how Christian art was a meaningful response to the Enlightenment, I will need to provide some brief background on a particular philosophical argument. The ontological argument (Speaking of God: “that than which nothing greater can be conceived”) originated with Anselm in the 11th century.  The idea re-emerged with Descartes and has made an important comeback in recent decades.

Although Hadyn was no philosopher, I believe the greatest of Western artists inherently recognize that something or some being demands art “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” Beethoven’s journey with the symphony ultimately led him to a story line in the 9th symphony that has  become the theme of the European Union. Beethoven no doubt sought to make a lofty philosophical statement with the work. For Haydn, the thematic vehicle for music of the highest possible conception must be Christian. Ultimately Haydn’s journey to write sacred music of the highest quality resulted in the Creation, but the six symphonic masses written in the 1790’s are of equal quality. The Theresienmesse, which will be presented tonight at Leavell Chapel, is one of those works.

By the 1790’s, Haydn was not a naive artist writing a fluffy settings of a familiar mass text . At this point, he knew well the dangers of a tyrant such as Napoleon, yet the joy of the Gloria movement cannot be contained, just as the joy of a life lived for Christ cannot be contained no matter what difficulties we face this side of heaven, “O death where is thy sting.” Surely there is a powerful apologetic that is represented in a life lived for Christ with joy in the midst of very difficult circumstances. When an artist so uniquely captures this sense of uncontainable joy and hope, a powerful response to the God-doubters is presented for the world to observe. No doubt Haydn’s Theresienmesse is an artistic/apologetic tour de force.

Reflections on the Supper

I encourage my students to consider doing something special this week to reflect on the Passion of Christ. I realized at about age 19 as an evangelical in a small town in MS that Baptists knew little about how to commemorate Passion week. It’s strangely funny to me how we sometimes as Evangelicals try so hard to not be liturgical that we miss some of the great blessings of worship that have historically proven to be the most treasured by the church. I say this as one firmly committed to free church worship practices, pointing to the most recent scholarship in the Oxford History of Worship, which reveals foundational practices that would suggest greater rather than less freedom.

As a college student, observing Passion week included an opportunity to go to a Maundy Thursday Service for the first time/I had never experienced anything like it–incredibly powerful as the elements were draped in black. At other points in College I began experimenting with fasting, probably with the guidance or model of my father.

Since then I have come to understand much more profoundly that Passion Week can be a powerful time of personal, family, and corporate worship. Our immediate family began doing Passover almost 10 years ago, and now our kids look forward to the event each year. Additionally, I have sought to do some things personally that would make the week of worship special. However, sometimes the Lord has plans that are beyond our capacity to implement.

As most of my friends and students know, my father was diagnosed with brain cancer about a year ago. This was devastating news for our family. Dad was a healthy 65 at that time, committed to responsible eating and exercise. And in a matter of months we saw him go from healthy to the look of death. We prayed and sought the best of medical help. Praise God for the folks at MD Anderson; by the end of summer Dad was free of cancer, had returned to work, and was fervently researching worship for a series of classes that are now being presented across MS in conjunction with the MS Baptist Convention. As dad walked through the valley of the shadow of death, worship had taken on a renewed and deeper meaning .

Then, just a few weeks ago, we found out Dad’s cancer had returned. Within days we were scrambling to get things in place for me to be with dad and mom at MD Anderson. It was there as I was beginning to read and listen to various portions of the gospels that the Spirit reminded me of a profound truth. One particular night we decided to eat in the same room, even if Dad had to eat the overdone steak and other stuff that was on the approved list (we did sneak him a couple of pieces of fajitas steak from Pappasitos). That night I suddenly sensed the Spirit uniting us and realized that what we were experiencing was not all that different from the Love Feasts in the early church. According to scholars the Love Feasts are actually hard to distinguish from the Supper in the early Church. There was a deep sense of an eternal bond, and reflections on that moment continue to remind me of His promise that “He would be with us to the end of the world.”

The Supper is such a powerful and expansive event we fail to see it in many aspects of our fellowship and worship as the church! Critically important things are happening theologically during the Supper; it is an act of obedience as we remember a real historical event; there is a present, that is, an existential power in the supper even with a view of the event as symbol; there is a future hope in the Supper as we look forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  But the Supper is also just a powerful, powerful, powerful act of fellowship with Christ. His presence does make all the difference and when we break bread with others, even if in a hospital as your dad is receiving cancer treatment, even there the presence of Christ can be so real it’s overwhelming. Remember, one of the primary role’s of the Spirit is to remind us of Christ’s presence.

With these thoughts in mind, perhaps you can better understand why I was so looking forward to celebrating Christ in the Passover with Dad this weekend. Dad has been doing the event with family and friends in Brandon, MS, for several years now. In fact we’ve had fun comparing notes regarding who presents the more authentic service. Dad had me topped when he let me know a few years ago that he had a converted Jewish person who speaks Hebrew attend his event. Nothing could possibly go wrong . . . except no one could be sick because Dad’s blood count is at a point now that we can’t take any chances with him being around sick folks. Well, my precious Elizabeth got sick on the way last night. My wise and patient wife finally helped me realize this morning that none of us needed to go to Dad’s tonight. So once again tonight we will have competing Passovers, this time just a few miles apart as my ever gracious cousin Bill Trolio will host us. Thankfully my wife made enough Charoset to feed an army and 4 boxes of Matzo ball soup, perhaps my favorite Passover food. To say I am disappointed would be a vast understatement. However, the Lord always seeks to heal and teach us truth when we undergo emotional and psychological warfare. Here’s the truth I sense He is sharing with me today. Just as I long for my earthly father’s presence, deeply longing to hear his voice in person tonight, to be led by him in worship, to receive the look of pride that he offers to me in a unique way, knowing that he knows my weaknesses like few on earth, so the disciples deeply missed Jesus by Good Friday. They were at a point of incredible emotional and psychological trauma, wondering what they would do without Him. I believe that’s one of the reasons why Jesus offered so many promises of presence in the upper room discourse, John 13-17. And as I am reminded painfully this weekend of the emptiness of lack of personal presence, I am also reminded of the greater truth, the earth shattering reality of Resurrection Truth. Because He has risen, Christ is present with us through the Spirit. And we will be made to be even more present with Him for all of eternity, and to be comforted by this thought is to be comforted by the presence of the Heavenly Father. In fact, Jesus said that to know Him is to know me. So thankful for an earthly father who has truly given me a picture of the Heavenly Father by seeking to define his life by the Word. We show our Father to our children to the extent that we abide in Christ and His Word. Ultimately I am thankful to God for His beautiful plan to break bread with even me and my family for all of eternity.