Mother Church

A reading for Friday, May 19, 2017: Acts 17:16-31.

"What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth..." -The Apostle Paul

Last Friday night we went to the Ryman Auditorium here in Nashville to hear Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. If you are from out of town, right now downtown Nashville is buzzing with excitement and energy. There are lots of visitors to our city and locals spend time having fun too. One of the best things about a show at the Ryman is how enthusiastic the artists themselves are. You can feel their joy at playing "the mother church" of the Nashville music scene. It's infectious. Some have looked forward to their night to play that room all their lives, and they are overwhelmed with emotion.

The opening act was Joe Purdy. It was his first time at the Ryman, and so his mother and father drove in from Arkansas to see their son sing and play. What an entertainer. He was proud and they were proud, and it was amazing to be there to be a small part of this success of their family.

Towards the end of his set, Joe Purdy told the audience that the next song he would play was for his mom, after all it was Mother's Day weekend. He started to sing... "Oh Lord my God... When I in awesome wonder... Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made..."

Then to my amazement the crowd began to sing this most familiar of church hymns, "How Great Thou Art." The auditorium filled with the voices of hundreds of people singing a song it was pretty clear most of them knew. There were no words on a screen, no hymnbook, and Joe Purdy was not giving out the lyrics. Suddenly it was as if the whole crowd were worshipping God from the heart holding nothing back...

It reminded me of Paul in Athens. "I see how extremely religious you are in every way," he told the Athenians. Your hearts are filled with the abundance and the peace that only the living God can provide. You might not recognize it as the God of creation, since you have made faith into religious icons and statues, certain places of worship. However, Paul knew that God was in all of it. He proclaimed the gospel to them and they believed.

God is on the loose in our culture too. God is all around us and sometimes we miss it because we are limited in our willingness to see. We are weary and filled with anxiety over all that is happening in the world, and even the losses in our faith communities.

When suddenly, God shows up in a concert at the Ryman... "How Great Thou Art" indeed!


  1. Note that it wasn't happy clappy "contemporary Christian music" that they sang spontaneously, or that moved them, and the Spirit.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts