Prayer, renewal, community, and ministry to the poor fuel Ed Conlin’s inspiring and Spirit-filled songwriting. Ed is a member of the Servants of the Word, a missionary brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. He lives in community in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan, USA, where, as a licensed substance abuse counselor and chaplain, he serves the poor caught in homelessness and addiction. Ed has a deep desire for, and appreciation of, praise and worship as a powerful agent of transformation for communities and individuals. His lyrics are usually taken from scripture, though some spring from the early church Fathers and great writers such as Augustine and John of the Cross. We have asked Ed to tell us about worship and about one of his new songs, Rise O People, Called to Worship.Why do we worship?
We were created by a God of infinite love who has called us into an intimate relationship of unity with the triune Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That unity is possible because the Father sent his Son into the world to redeem us and fill us with his life-giving Spirit.
It is our highest purpose to share the Trinity’s life. This statement is the reason for our worship.
Each of us, says Augustine in his commentary on the Book of Revelations, is uniquely gifted with the ability to glorify some aspect of the Divine Beauty as no one else can.
to the Lord
In our community life within the Sword of the Spirit, we are especially blessed with the charismatic dimension of prayer and worship — with singing in the Spirit, praying in tongues, singing with jubilant praise and tears of joy, listening to the prophetic word, and bowing in reverent silence before the presence of the Lord. Deep worship which is reverent, non-indulgent, Spirit-orchestrated, and God-centered in praise is the treasure I believe God has given us to steward. It’s a gift which I believe that God wants to give not only to those in charismatic communities and prayer groups, but to the whole Christian church.
As community members, we have covenanted our lives together to be a people of praise and worship. I believe that our brotherly and sisterly commitments are truly a sign of God’s presence and work among us. Every scriptural description of heaven is replete with images of community. Gathered around the throne of God are a great company (or community) of saints and angels who join their voices in a great song of praise and worship. Here on earth, covenant commitment is a most extraordinary form of love — especially in today’s secular society which places individual freedom over faithfulness and places self-indulgence over sacrifice and the common good. Covenant love is the context of our worship of God who draws us into union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and into community with one another as members of Christ’s body, the church.
Lyrics to Rise, O People, Called to Worship [and audio clip of song]
I invite you to reflect on the words of the song, ‘Rise O People’. This song is an effort to raise our awareness of what we do when we gather together for praise and worship. By combining various scriptural references to heaven, this song raises our hope for the promises of God and for the eternal, beatific vision when we will see God face to face and enjoy him forever.
Verse 1 highlights the tremendous
mantle of praise God has given us now as a people
Verse 2 emphasizes the fact that heaven’s worship is rendered present to us as we enter here and now.
Verse 3 describes Augustine’s vision at the window at Ostia (from Augustine’s Confessions Book 2, chapter 11). When Christ brings all of creation into submission and silence before him, then we, and all the heavenly host, will shatter this silence with praise, in an attitude of reverent wonder and awe.
As we worship in Spirit and truth, we enter heaven and heaven enters us. God becomes more present on earth, a world so needy and so dark. Worship is certainly God’s due, but it is also our tremendous privilege — and the world is poorer if we fail to offer it.
[The song Rise
O People, Called to Worship is included in a Music CD entitled, "Trust
Him", produced by In
His Presence. The CD and sheet music can be ordered from Tabor
House or from In
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom