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Feb 2011

In Feast or Fallow

What is thy only comfort in life and death?
That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.
Question 1 from the Heidelberg Catechism

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16 ESV

The songs that we sing together on Sunday mornings matter. It isn’t a warm-up for the preaching. It’s a time for God’s word to “dwell in [us] richly.” The word of Christ abides in us as we instruct and exhort one another, and as we sing to the Lord. As we are worshiping, we are meditating. The lyrics are shaping us. As we sing of Christ and him crucified, truth sinks deep into our hearts and transforms us.

Every worship song transmits theology, either good or bad, and theology affects us. Joshua Harris underscores how critical theology is in his book Dug Down Deep:

    I’ve come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. What you believe about God’s nature — what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him — affects every part of your life.

The songs that we sing together on Sunday mornings matter, because they affect how we think about God. Whenever someone in the church is going through tough times, they need to able to think rightly about God: that He is sovereign, loving, wise, and good. When Satan accuses us, we need to remember that Christ was condemned in our place. When we’re tempted to fear, we should recall God’s faithfulness. We learn these things through preaching and study, but we also learn them through the songs we sing.

This Sunday, we will be introducing another new song to our corporate gathering, In Feast or Fallow. The song was written by the modern songwriter and performer Sandra McCracken, and is a call to lean on God wholeheartedly, regardless of where He has us. Here is the text:

    When the fields are dry, and the winter is long
    Blessed are the meek, the hungry, the poor
    When my soul is downcast, and my voice has no song
    For mercy, for comfort, I wait on the Lord

    In the harvest feast or the fallow ground
    My certain hope is in Jesus found
    My lot, my cup, my portion sure
    Whatever comes, we shall endure

    On a cross of wood, His blood was outpoured
    He rose from the ground, like a bird to the sky
    Bringing peace to our violence, and crushing death’s door
    Our Maker incarnate, our God who provides

    When the earth beneath me crumbles and quakes
    Not a sparrow falls, nor a hair from my head
    Without His hand to guide me, my shield and my strength
    In joy or in sorrow, in life or in death

The lyrics speak of a trust in God that goes beyond our own circumstances. Sometimes the ups and downs of our everyday lives can seemingly overtake us, dictating our faith, joy, and peace. But the cross of Christ is sufficient to sustain us and fulfill all our needs. Even while the situations that surround us constantly change, God does not. The encouragement that we receive through God’s people lifting up truth in song is one reason why we should enjoy gathering with other Christians on Sunday mornings and in our Communities. It’s during these times we’re reminded that we are not alone in our trials, pain, and sufferings.

You can read more about Sandra McCracken and In Feast or Fallow on her website. I would also encourage you to download and listen to the song (or the whole album) here and meditate on the lyrics prior to Sunday. May our worship songs provide us with passionate expressions to the Lord’s revelation of himself. May they make us stronger in Christ as we delight in and enjoy him more deeply.


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